After months of protests and three weeks of testimonials, former police officer Derek Chauvin, 45, was found guilty of all counts with bail revoked in the murder of George Floyd, 46. On Tuesday evening, Morgan State President David Wilson said that although the deserved verdict was rendered, “this is not a cause for celebration,” in a statement to the university community.
On May 25, 2020, Christopher Martin, a store employee in Minneapolis, accepted a $20 counterfeit bill from Floyd. After informing his store manager, the police were called to the scene. The event caught national attention after a now-viral video showed Chauvin kneeling on the back of Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, claiming Floyd was resisting arrest. Multiple surveillance and camera footage shows this was not this case. Three other officers stood by and watched as Floyd cried out, “I can’t breathe.”
While the defense claimed the necessary force was used to restrain Floyd, an independent examiner stated the cause of death was asphyxiation from sustained pressure. Once the 12-member jury heard from 45 witnesses, 38 for the prosecution and seven in the defense of Chauvin, the group deliberated for just over 10 hours.
“To the police officers who treat so many young Black men with utter disdain and devalue their lives, the courts will not protect you when innocent people are killed,” Wilson said in a Tuesday evening statement addressed to the Morgan community an hour after the verdict.
Floyd’s sparked outrage in the Black community and across the globe and protests were held in response.
President Joe Biden called this moment a “step forward in the march for justice in America,” in his first remarks after the conviction.
Both Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris continued to push forward with the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act and took the opportunity to push the bill after the verdict became public. Biden said the legislation needs to tackle systemic misconduct in police departments and build trust between the police and the community.
“Enough of the restless killing,” Biden said during a live press conference from the White House hours after the verdict. “Today’s verdict was a step toward.”
The conviction arrives after a summer of large-scale protests, some of which were conducted on Morgan’s campus, against police brutality and in recognition of its victims.
Some student organizations have held events and programs to discuss police brutality and the struggles that Black people continue to face in America. The impact of Floyd’s death was monumental in the Morgan community and sparked surrounding neighborhoods to join the protests.
“My heart goes out to the Floyd family today because even a guilty verdict will not result in bringing Mr. Floyd back to life,” Wilson said.