On Thursday, the defense rested its case in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer accused of murdering George Floyd, and jury deliberations are likely to begin this afternoon. Like many of you, I have followed the trial intently and with apprehension, and fervently hope that the verdict will bring justice to Mr. Floyd and his family and affirm the voices of millions of people who decried his death and the racism that led to it.
The decision is now up to the jury, but the ultimate verdict rests with us. In my mind, the case against Mr. Chauvin cannot be an end in and of itself. It must represent a step forward in an antiracist journey that has as its destination a place where Black people need not fear for their lives when officers approach. It also needs to be one more step toward ending the systemic and deep-rooted prejudice which treats people of color as “lesser,” and not deserving of the same protection, rights, opportunities, and hope that white people have.
It’s my hope that this trial, and the activism and awareness which resulted from Mr. Floyd’s death, will bring us closer to that elusive equality, certainly as it relates to policing and the threat posed by law enforcement practices in communities of color. I also hope his legacy—and the legacy of the many other Black people who have lost their lives to police violence—helps to illuminate and redress the many other racial injustices which continue to afflict our society. These tragic deaths cast a bright and honest light on every form of racial antipathy, and I hope this energy carries into the fight we are having today to secure voting rights for people of color, and to stand up against every other manifestation of racism around the world.
Whatever the verdict in the Chauvin case, I am committed to ensuring that Boston University continues its ongoing efforts to enact, deepen, and advance our antiracist values. In the days ahead, we seek to provide opportunities for people who want to talk, or who need support, and we will share a list of those resources soon.
In the meantime, please join me in hoping for two outcomes. The first, a just verdict, and second, whatever the verdict, a peaceful assembly to let the world know what we think about it—and everything it represents.
Robert A. Brown