Tuesday afternoon the jury entrusted with determining if Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd found Chauvin guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
The murder sparked national outrage when a video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes spread across social media. It led to a summer of protest and a spotlight being shone on police brutality.
Eastern’s community was not exempt from the shock of the murder and many have been active in speaking out against police brutality.
University President David Glassman shared his thoughts on the verdict with The Daily Eastern News.
“For many, today’s verdicts in the Derek Chauvin case in Minneapolis are a significant step forward for fairness, justice, equity – and certainly accountability. Still, one thing remains abundantly clear: There is much more work to be done to secure equal rights and treatment for all people,” Glassman said. “We must continue our fight for social justice and equity, and I encourage our EIU community to renew our efforts in doing this important work together with virtuous hearts and minds.”
Vice President of Student Affairs Anne Flaherty said there is still work to be done.
“The family of George Floyd is in my heart. While today’s verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial provides accountability, this alone does not mean our BIPOC community has achieved true justice,” Flaherty said. “There is so much work to do. We all need to continue the work of being anti-racists.”
The executive members of the Student Government also provided a statement:
“The verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin takes an important step in holding police officers accountable for their actions. However, it’s hard to consider this justice. If true and proper justice had existed in our criminal justice system, George Floyd would still be alive today. Actual justice requires us to move forward towards criminal justice reform and reform of law enforcement practices until the system works for everyone, not just a select few. We hope that today’s verdict signals a significant shift in the tide in the fight for justice.”
Student activists were excited for the verdict.
Morgan Colvin and Shyra Bluminberg, two women who argued for and got the Black Lives Matter flag to be flown at Eastern, shared their excitement.
“We are ecstatic that justice will be served in George Floyd’s murder. Police cannot be both jury and executioner. They have to be held to the highest standard of law; they are not above it,” Bluminberg said. “We hope this is a pattern that continues.”
However, it was not just student activists that were happy to hear the guilty verdict.
Bradley Rucks, a junior digital media technology major, said he was relieved but cautious.
“It’s just relief to me,” Rucks said. “I know that this doesn’t mean that people that look like me are safe with the police but it’s a first step that none of us were sure would have been reached.”
He said the verdict shows that “the police can’t just kill people. At least in broad daylight. More than likely the next time this happens and there’s not that many cameras around to capture it. The cop is likely going to get away with it. Like I said this is just a first step. And hopefully there are more steps to ensure that no more people die after this.”
Rucks said the verdict does not mean activism against police brutality should end.
“We need to keep making noise and make sure people know that this is not okay by any means. No one deserves to die in a police encounter if you’re not harming a police officer,” Rucks said. “For once this justice system worked.”
EJ Hicks, junior English major, said they were upset it took as long as it did to come to a final result.
“I think it’s a tragedy that it took this long for the trial to take place and that he didn’t just get fired and jailed on the spot,” Hicks said.”I also think it shows that we have a lot of work left to do to make sure people actually get treated with equal respect.”
Hicks said regardless of the wait they were happy to see the verdict.
“I’m very glad he was found guilty, and hopefully it sets a precedent that police brutality won’t be tolerated for much longer,” Hicks said. “I think it’s definitely a win for those against white supremacy but there is still a lot of work to do. Hopefully one day these actions are prevented instead of punished after the fact.”
Cassius Burks, a freshman digital media major, said the verdict was personal for him.
“As an African American man, I am happy to hear that he was guilty on all charges,” Burks said. “I know that this won’t be the immediate change that I wanted for the world, but to see that after so long, justice was served for something that was witnessed by all really made me happy and finally feeling like I could live in this country without fear every day.”
Max Zumpano, third-year psych and theater major, said justice was served but this should not be the end of road.
“Intention is not the same thing as accountability. There’s so much that goes into this,” Zumpano said. “We need to fund the police for proper training in today’s social climate, and any police officer that unjustly kills an otherwise defenseless person, they need to be held accountable. Period.”
Elise Keane, a freshman biochemistry major, said when she first saw the video she became “immediately outraged and simultaneously unsurprised in the middle of facing a pandemic we were still dealing with the pandemic of racism. I immediately gathered with the students at my high school to do a protest at our downtown to make sure our voices were heard around the world.”
Keane said she believes the verdict was the best outcome for the circumstances.
She said she is “cautiously optimistic of the change” the verdict will bring.
Theo Edwards, Ryan Meyer and Elizabeth Taylor contributed to this article.
Corryn Brock can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]