"George Floyd" by chaddavis.photography (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Police officer Derek Chauvin has been found guilty of all counts of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The trial, spanning three weeks, has been closely followed around the country as one of the few cases in which a police officer faces trial for the death of a suspect in custody. Minneapolis, where the trial was being held, and other large cities increased security over the weekend in the event a verdict led to violence.
The verdict also comes at a time when the nation is on edge after a spate of mass shootings and police attacks on black civilians. 20 year-0ld Daunte Wright was shot and killed near Minneapolis last week after an officer claimed she confused her taser with her handgun. More locally, video footage from Dec. 5 showing uniformed Army officer Lt. Caron Nazario being pepper sprayed and beaten by Virginia state police prompted an investigation and response from Governor Ralph Northam.
At McLean, some students have a critical view of the trial and criminal justice system.
“The judicial system finally got something right, but it’s important to remember that the vast majority of police killings will still not be handled justly,” sophomore Elliot Smith-Chauss said.
Others welcome the verdict but don’t want it to distract from the greater inequities George Floyd’s murder represents.
“Convicting [Derek Chauvin] was the bare minimum,” junior Abby Powell said. “I’m worried that the trial was used to demonstrate that it was the fault of ‘one bad apple…’ I’m glad he was found guilty of murder as he should be, but there are people who will use [the trial] to distract from the systemic issues of racism in the police force.”
Most students, however, speak to a sense of relief that the trials ended peacefully and that those wrongfully killed by police are more likely to get justice.
“There are countless incidents of police brutality that have still gone unchecked, most notably Breonna Taylor,” senior Zayan Baig said. “I’m hoping the outcome of this trial paves the way for more accountability for police and encourages reform of both the police force and forms of systemic racism.”
What are other students saying?
“I think [the verdict is] great obviously and a really important step in fighting police brutality. I’m really hopeful that this conviction will lead to more convictions against police who have and continue to kill BIPOC, and hopefully begin a pattern of finally holding the perpetrators of white supremacy accountable.”
-Sanjna Kaul, senior
“I think that now is a time that people need to stop being tolerant of the evils that reside within our country. I think that tolerance for racism (including anti-semitism), xenophobia, Islamophobia, and other forms of prejudice is way too common place…I also think that it is the job of people who have privilege, such as a majority of people in McLean, to speak out on important social and economic issues.”
-Will Walby, junior
“It was a well deserved win that was thought out and presented wonderfully by the prosecution. I respect how well they were able to deal with everything the defense threw at them and create a great precedent for future similar cases to come.”
-Christina Wu, sophomore