UB President Satish Tripathi wrote in a statement Tuesday that he hopes Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict leads community members to “transform this moment in our collective history into a turning point for genuine reconciliation and change.”
Chauvin, a Minneapolis police officer, was found guilty Tuesday of all charges — second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter — for his role in the May 2020 death of George Floyd.
The verdict was announced shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday, and was celebrated by students across campus. Students and staff in the Student Union watched Judge Peter Cahill announce the jury’s findings on TV in hushed silence, before excitedly returning to their conversations.
Tripathi wrote that the Chauvin trial was a “referendum” on police accountability, and that the UB community needs to use this moment to affect “change in our hearts, our minds, our practices, our systems.”
“As I have said before, we at UB can actively contribute to transformative change through our mission and its expression in our education, our research, scholarship and creative activities, and our engagement with one another and the many communities we serve,” Tripathi wrote.
Tripathi released a statement last Friday in which he acknowledged the “anxiety, sadness and raw frustration” many students have been feeling “over a system that continues to allow this violence to happen.”
He said he shares in students’ insistence that action is overdue and that UB is taking steps to address systemic racism.
UB faculty members expressed concern last June about the university’s response to the Black Lives Matter Movement. They said UB has struggled to hire and retain minority professors and hasn’t invested enough money in what was formerly the Transnational Studies Department, and is now the Department of Africana and American Studies.
In the now-famous video, Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for about nine minutes, while Floyd said, “I can’t breathe.” The 12 jurors found Chauvin guilty of all three charges after about 10 hours of deliberation.
Chauvin faces up to 40 years of imprisonment for his second-degree unintentional murder charge, up to 25 years for his third-degree murder charge and up to 10 years and/or $20,000 for his second-degree manslaughter charge.
Addressing the court, Cahill said: “eight weeks from now we will have sentencing.”
Chauvin is expected to file an appeal of his guilty verdict on the grounds that the case had a massive amount of publicity and that the jurors were not sequestered in an effort to shield them from the news.
UB assembled a list of resources for students on the Chauvin trial, including open conversations, community listening sessions and recommendations for dealing with community trauma and racial empathy.
“Together, as a university community, we must continue working toward the ideals of social justice, recognizing that achieving them will lead to a brighter future for those who have been marginalized and disenfranchised throughout our country’s history — and for our nation as a whole,” Tripathi wrote.
Justin Weiss is the managing editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Justin Weiss is the The Spectrum's managing editor. In his free time, he can be found hiking, playing baseball or throwing things at his TV when his sports teams aren't winning. His words have appeared in Elite Sports New York and the Long Island Herald.