The members of the PSC join in relief and somber celebration of today’s guilty verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin. We extend our solidarity to the family and community of George Floyd, to the anti-racist activists who held the Minneapolis square where he was murdered for more than a year, to the millions of people who rose up to demand justice, and to the brave witnesses and members of the jury who rendered the verdict. We also renew our commitment to each other and our students in this complicated moment; even the emphatic statement of Chauvin’s guilt cannot undo the trauma of witnessing George Floyd’s murder and recalling all the murders of Black people that did not end in conviction.
Today’s verdict was rendered in a single Minneapolis courtroom, but it would have been impossible without a mass movement. The rising up of millions of Black people, working-class people and their allies around the world, many of whom put their own lives and health at risk to participate, and all of whom built on a centuries-long struggle, made today’s verdict thinkable despite systemic racism. But to make such a verdict routine—and to end the state-sanctioned violence against Black people the case epitomized—will take an even more powerful movement.
It is impossible to underestimate the profound meaning of today’s verdict, in this country founded on genocide and racial violence. But it is a verdict that never should have been in doubt, in a case that never should have happened. The conviction of murderer Derek Chauvin cannot bring justice to George Floyd, nor can it bring justice to Emmett Till, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Ramarley Graham or the thousands of other victims of murderous racism. But it can and it does give us hope, as educators, trade unionists and anti-racists, that we will be able to create a world in which Black people and other oppressed people will one day be able to breathe.
April 20, 2021