Today we join our community in contemplating the verdict finding Derek Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd. Today’s verdict is an important step forward for justice in Minnesota. The trial is over, but our work has only begun. He has been held accountable for his actions, but that does not soothe the pain and trauma experienced by our community over the last year. Justice requires true restoration.
This has been an extraordinarily difficult year with the violence and civil unrest around the murder of George Floyd, the trial of Derek Chauvin, and the killing of Daunte Wright, all set against the backdrop of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. These events have caused trauma for all of us, and especially for our young people.
Regardless of today’s verdict, our community is justifiably angry and grieving. The rage and pain that has exploded has led to both peaceful protests and violence in our streets. Over the last year, we have lost many treasured businesses and community assets that will take years – if not decades – to recover. However many who were previously unaware of the injustices faced by our Black and Brown neighbors each and every day have now awakened to this reality and as a result, have been moved to act in many ways.
Although there was justice for George Floyd today, it is important to acknowledge that we live in a society that has criminalized the existence of people of color. The disregard for these lives is horrific but all too familiar for people of color and indigenous people. These killings have laid bare once again the ongoing scourge of racism and unequal justice that has been with us all along.
We grieve with the families and communities of George Floyd, Daunte Wright and so many others, whose pain is immeasurable, and who have lost their beloved children, parents and family members. Our hearts go out to them. Their loss cannot be repaired no matter how much time passes.
We are also deeply concerned about our students, families, staff and communities. For students, this verdict and the fresh trauma of Daunte Wright’s killing has occurred right on the cusp of the long-awaited return to in-person instruction and added to the intense challenges of life during a pandemic.
Ending racism, violence and injustice is a task that falls to each of us. We must fight for a future in which we do not wake up to the news of yet another senseless death. We must fight for transformative change in our political, economic, education, cultural and social systems. And we must create a community that truly embraces each and every person and places no limit on what our young people can accomplish.
Only then can we achieve our vision of a truly equitable community in which every single young person can attain their full, powerful potential in our world.
AchieveMpls is deeply committed to creating a more just and equitable community and ensuring the well-being and success of our precious young people. Our work is grounded in strong commitments to racial justice, equity and community partnerships. Alongside our partners at Minneapolis Public Schools and Saint Paul Public Schools, we are working tirelessly to provide support and safer spaces for students to process their feelings of anger and grief.
Today we commit once again to confronting racism in all of its forms on behalf of our communities, our families and our young people. We are all in this together, and we will find the way forward together.
We are so thankful for your partnership and solidarity in the weeks, months and years ahead.
AchieveMpls President and CEO