Reflection on Derek Chauvin Verdict


After 10 hours of deliberation over two days, former officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of the murder of George Floyd. He faces up to 40 years in prison.

On May 25, 2020 George Floyd muttered his last words, “I can’t breathe.” as Chauvin pressed his knee against his neck. Four days later, Derek Chauvin was arrested. Weeks of protest and unrest continue through the month of June. Finally, after much political turmoil, the trial for Derek Chauvin began on March 29, 2021.

I watched the trial between classes and shifts at work as many Americans did. Over 23 million Americans tuned in to listen to Chauvin’s verdict live. By comparison, that is more viewers than of any MLB world series in recent years.

In order to find Chauvin guilty, the jury had to believe that the prosecution proved their case beyond reasonable doubt. And they did. We now ask ourselves, what will this mean for America? In a country where the justice system often plays out in the favor of police and against our fallen black Americans, is this a step towards real change?

For the president of Rockhurst University, the step towards real change starts with each one of us.  On Wed., April 21, in response to Derek Chauvin’s trial, a statement was made from Fr. Curran, after condemning racism and violence, he declared “Let us consider our shared humanity and the end for which we have all been created.  And, then let us pursue a community, city and nation that is based upon and lived in love.  It must be the first and last word.  From that expressed love will flow the justice deserved for George Floyd.”  Later that day a group reflection titled Where Do We Go From Here? Post Chauvin Verdict Discussion was held at Kinerk Commons.  At this outdoor event there were reading of names, student presentations and small group reflections on the verdict of Derek Chauvin.  This is not the only event held of this type.  Throughout the year there were also leadership workshops by Student Senate and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion which covered the topics of equality, having difficult discussions, being a positive bystander, and understanding systemic racism.

Furthermore, the university faculty and staff have continuously expressed their support for equal treatment of all people throughout the recent events which have happened.  Another example of this was the statements released by Fr. Curran and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion when there was a rise in the violence towards Asian-Americans.  In the email letter titled Rockhurst University Condemns Violence Against Asian-Americans, Fr. Curran stated “As we continue our work to ensure that Rockhurst University is a home for all and labor toward the realization of a more just world, we condemn hatred and violence in all of its forms. Instead, we embrace that which unites us – our common humanity.”

Although Rockhurst remains a predominantly Caucasian university, great strides have been made in the way of increasing the diversity on campus.  The minority undergraduate percentage reported in 2020 was 36.9%, which was increased by 10.5% from 2019, reference link below.    This change is due to a conscious effort of the university to welcome and include everyone, as well as challenge all students to step outside of their comfort zone, by valuing others despite differences.

Although great strides are being made, there is no doubt more must be done, there are more lives out there that have been lost at the hands of police brutality. And justice has not been found for many families and the black community. The American people deserve better, and they showed up to prove it this summer with demonstrations of protest.

Derek Chauvin has requested a new trial. His attorney, Eric Nelson, claims misconduct, unlawfulness, and that Chauvin did not receive a fair trial. According to legal experts it is unlikely any charges will be overturned.  Become knowledgeable, listen to your BIPOC peers and hear their struggles.  Finally, reflect upon what you can do to support the Black Lives Matter movement going forward.




Edited by Micaela Gutierrez