April 20, 2021
Dear YWCA Community,
Human beings may never attain absolute, perfect justice. If we could, George Floyd would be alive today. However, we can make great progress toward that sacred goal. A racialized criminal justice system is the area crying out most loudly and urgently for that long overdue progress.
Jurors’ ethnic diversity in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, for second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd, was one small step toward that goal. A larger step, which followed, was the conviction of Mr. Chauvin on those charges, but his trial was important not only for the foregoing reasons. This guilty verdict resulted from the combined efforts of at least five interracial groups of Americans: the Black Lives matter protestors, who kept public attention focused on deaths of African Americans at the hands of police officers; media members who covered Mr. Floyd’s death and those protests; the aforementioned jury; the prosecutorial team; and the police officers who testified against Mr. Chauvin’s grotesquely excessive use of force, in keeping his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes. During the last three of those terrible minutes, as bystanders begged for his life, Mr. Floyd no longer had a discernible pulse.
For the suspected minor offense of using a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill (perhaps unintentionally) to make a purchase, Mr. Floyd was, in effect, subjected to extrajudicial execution on a public sidewalk, which is a disgrace to this country. We cannot bring him back to us, but with racial and social efforts in
his memory, Americans like those protestors, media members, jurors, prosecutors, police officers, and citizens who tried to save Mr. Floyd can help lead our divided country forward.
YWCA Board of Directors and staff, and our Racial Justice Committee stand in solidarity with these efforts.