Nonprofits React To Conviction of Derek Chauvin

The rapid conviction by a criminal court jury in Minneapolis of former police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd last year brought the expected and swift reactions from leaders across the nonprofit sector.

The leaders not only backed the verdict, many also voiced support for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021 pending in Congress which would put federal law behind blocking tactics such as no-knock warrants and chokeholds when detaining a suspect.

Here are some of the statements. Those that are below only in part have links to the full statements.

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 Alliance For Strong Families And Communities & The Council On Accreditation

Jody Levison-Johnson, president and CEO of The Alliance for Strong Families and Communities/Council on Accreditation (Alliance/COA): 

“The Alliance for Strong Families and Communities and Council on Accreditation stand with our colleagues in Minneapolis and in communities across the country.  

This verdict reflects the fact that our national reckoning on systemic racism in America is long overdue. Watching the Derek Chauvin trial unfold has been difficult for all Americans, and for people of color who have lost another father, mother, son, or daughter at the hands of law enforcement, this tragedy, played out daily on our television screens, has been especially hard to bear. Systemic racism and implicit bias are infused across too many of the systems that should support people, resulting too often in harm to those they are meant to protect. While we recognize the work that has taken place thus far to expand equity, diversity and inclusion, we must continue to build on it, and acknowledge that the road ahead of us is long, and that true systemic change is needed and required. We hope this verdict puts us on a path toward bringing about that needed change. …”

The full statement can be found here … https://bit.ly/3xdB3pG 

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National Council of Nonprofits

President & CEO Tim Delaney:

“Today, jurors in a Minnesota courtroom honored their oaths to render an impartial verdict. Based on what they saw on the video, what they heard in testimony, and what they felt in their hearts, they convicted Derek Chauvin of murdering George Floyd.

We could not look away from the video of George Floyd’s murder last summer. And we can no longer look away from the reality that change is sorely needed in our communities. We need to identify and implement meaningful solutions to eliminate the racial injustices that, for too long, we’ve witnessed — and too many have experienced — in the communities where we live. The structural and cultural racism will not be eliminated overnight. But we cannot wait one more day to move toward breaking down the systems that continue to produce different life experiences and different life spans for people based solely on the color of their skin.”

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The Saint Paul And Minnesota Foundation

Eric J. Jolly, Ph.D., president and CEO, issued ahead of Tuesday’s verdict:

“It has been and continues to be an emotional and stressful time in Minnesota. While we await the verdict in the Derek Chauvin murder trial, we are still reeling from the murder of Daunte Wright and feel the weight of an increased police and military presence in the Twin Cities. Tensions are high, and emotions are raw.

First, we would like to acknowledge the anguish and grief of George Floyd’s family and friends, who have traveled through the unimaginable over this last year as they’ve mourned their beloved father, brother, uncle, cousin and friend. We also lift up our neighbors, the witnesses of that day, who carry the unfair and impossible weight of this tragedy — a tragedy they did not commit and one they could not stop. 

Today we stand in solidarity with our community; from those who raised their voices at Mr. Floyd’s side as he was fighting for his life, to those who took to our streets to call for justice, to those across the world who joined in this demand. 

While George Floyd’s murder at the hands of police has been said to be a wake-up call, the reality is that his death is merely symptomatic of the racism deeply woven into our country throughout its history. Too many families before and after this tragedy have mourned the loss of their loved ones at the hands of our systems, without recourse or accountability. 

The outcome in this trial will not cure the systemic issues we face, generations in the making. We have much work to do. There will not always be a camera to capture injustice. There will not always be witnesses. We must listen to and believe members of our Black community about their lived experiences. And we must act. The death of Daunte Wright at the hands of the police underscores how easily more lives could be lost if we do not act.

It is incumbent upon us — foundations, government, businesses, nonprofits, citizens — to identify and dismantle white supremacy in our communities. Minnesota is our beloved home, and yet it has some of the most significant racial disparities in our nation. 

As the largest community foundation in the state, we take seriously our responsibility to address and uproot racism, anti-blackness and oppression. While we know that the ills we face as a society will not disappear overnight, we understand that they must be addressed. As an organization, we will continue to advocate for equity by investing in community-led solutions that tackle racial disparities head-on, while also continuing to have difficult and honest conversations with our staff, donors and community members to identify additional concrete actions we can take to achieve an equitable society. 

The Foundation wants to acknowledge the emotional impact that the Derek Chauvin trial has had on our entire community. As such, we are planning to pause our daily operations to create a period of respite. We will be closed on Thursday, April 22, and Friday, April 23. Closing the Foundation is not an easy decision, nor one made lightly. To best serve our donors and community, it is important to give our staff some space and time to process the news. We appreciate your understanding.”

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Independent Sector

Daniel J. Cardinali, president and CEO:

Today, a police officer was found guilty on all counts for the murder of George Floyd. This act of accountability will not bring George Floyd back to his family or end our ongoing fight toward racial justice, but it is a constructive step toward our ongoing work for racial justice.

George Floyd’s murder galvanized our nation in a way we haven’t seen in decades. Millions of people of all ages and races took to the streets to proclaim their first amendment right to protest and call for justice in this case and for the end of our country’s deep history of systemic racism. We are all grateful to their acts of civic engagement toward what we know will take deep systems change work for years to come.

As a community of diverse set of changemakers across nonprofits, foundations, and community-based organizations, Independent Sector will continue to be relentless in our effort to end systemic racism and to build a healthy and just civil society and nation.”

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McKnight Fondation

A statement from President Tonya Allen of the Minneapolis-based foundation read in part:

“It is time now to cast our gaze forward—to envision and to rally for a more just, creative, and abundant future where all people can thrive. It is a future that includes shared power, prosperity, and participation. It is a future where everyone—of every race and ethnicity, of every zip code, of every socioeconomic circumstance—can breathe clean air; work in a high quality job; find a safe and affordable home; participate fully in our democracy; and enjoy a healthy planet preserved for future generations.”

The full statement can be found here.

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Bush Foundation

The St. Paul, Minn.-based Bush Foundation (via Twitter):

“Nothing can undo the murder of George Floyd. This moment, this verdict, is a place to build from. To show in every way that Black lives matter. To work together for racial justice. To challenge and change institutions to work for all. We can recommit to the practice of justice.”

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NAACP

President & CEO Derrick Johnson:

“While justice landed Derek Chauvin behind bars for murdering George Floyd, no amount of justice will bring Gianna’s father back. The same way a reasonable police officer would never suffocate an unarmed man to death, a reasonable justice system would recognize its roots in white supremacy and end qualified immunity. Police are here to protect, not lynch. We will not rest until all in our community have the right to breathe.”

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National Urban League

 

President and CEO Marc H. Morial:

“Just as the viral video of George Floyd’s brutal death marked a turning point in the nation’s tolerance for racially-motivated police violence, we are hopeful that today’s verdict marks a turning point in holding police accountable.

With this verdict, the jury has made an unambiguous declaration that unwarranted use of force against Black people by police is a crime, and that Black Lives Matter.

Criminal prosecutions of police officers for misconduct, even fatal misconduct, are extremely rare, and convictions are rarer still. A major reason why is the so-called blue wall of silence, which suffered a major blow in this case when Chauvin’s former fellow officers took the stand against him. While truthful testimony is the very least we should expect from law-enforcement officers, we are nonetheless encouraged by the role their actions played in securing this conviction.

We commend the prosecution team assembled by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who pursued justice with rigor and integrity.

We must build on the movement their actions and this conviction represent by enacting the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and putting an end to this pattern and practice of abuse.

We profoundly appreciate that justice has been served by the jury’s decision, but today is not a day to celebrate. Rather, it is a time for somber remembrance of George Floyd and all the lives those lost to unjustified police violence. It is a time to rededicate ourselves to building a community of trust that keeps all Americans safe.”

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ZERO TO THREE

Executive Director Matthew Melmed:

“Like so many others, we are relieved that justice was served in this case. Not only was the murder of George Floyd a tragedy, it was an avoidable tragedy that is all too common in our country. Despite the outcome of this case, we know that there are countless others who will never see justice. We must charge ahead to ensure that our babies and toddlers do not grow up in a society where their parents fear having them go out their own front door.

More than half of America’s babies are children of color. And the insidious impact of racism affects their lives even before birth. Each and every one of us must embrace the changing portrait of our nation’s babies and commit to ending the racism that plagues not only them, but ourselves as well.

Our mission at ZERO TO THREE is to provide every baby with a strong start in life. To do that, we must address the structural racism that creates huge economic and social disparities in our country so that where, and to whom, a baby is born does not determine their future.

We must address and rip out the scourge of racism from our society root and stem. Today’s verdict must be a call for all of us to rededicate ourselves to this cause. We must work together to make this a better world for babies.”

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ACLU

Jason Williamson, deputy director of the ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project:

“George Floyd will never make his way home to play games with his daughter, Gianna. He’ll never go on walks through the park with his beloved fiancée Courteney or play basketball with his brother, Philonise. While today’s verdict is a step forward in the fight for police accountability and may help heal a grieving community, the systems that allowed a police officer to murder Mr. Floyd, ripping him away from his family and the communities that loved him so much, remain fully intact. These are the same systems that resulted in the death of another 20-year-old Black man at the hands of police less than 10 miles from this trial.

Honoring the lives of George Floyd, Daunte Wright, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown and countless other Black lives violently taken at the hands of police means that elected officials, activists, organizations like the ACLU, and regular people must not allow this verdict to lull us into a place of complacency. Instead, we must renew our conviction to create a world where police do not have the opportunity to use violence and harassment to target Black people as police have been doing since their inception as slave patrols created to monitor, control, and oppress Black communities. This new world includes removing police entirely from low-level enforcement and massively reinvesting in the communities that desperately want more for the legacies of their fallen. And we will fight with them to get there.

 

John Gordon, executive director of the ACLU of Minnesota:

“Today, for the first time in state history, a white police officer has been held accountable for killing a Black man. Now, we can finally say George Floyd’s name and make it synonymous not only with grief, anger, and loss over his brutal murder, but with a moment of justice. But to be clear, true justice would mean George Floyd was alive today, with his fiancée, his daughter, and his family.

While this verdict brings a certain rare form of accountability for police, achieving this outcome for Mr. Floyd is only one step in addressing police abuse of power, disparate treatment, and excessive force against Black and Brown communities. We still must radically change policing in Minnesota and across the country, increase accountability and transparency, and create policies that combat racism in policing.

The jury’s decision to convict Derek Chauvin does not negate the fact that Mr. Floyd’s tragic murder is part of a horrifying local and national pattern of officers using excessive force against people of color. Mr. Floyd was one of more than 5,000 people killed by police since 2015.

Mr. Floyd should not have died under an officer’s knee — he should still be alive today. So should Daunte Wright, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor, and countless other Black people killed by police.

Our elected officials, activists, communities, and organizations, including the ACLU of Minnesota, must continue to fight for racial justice in Mr. Floyd’s name. We must re-examine our entire system of public safety and public health, and root out the racism that pervades law enforcement. We must prohibit police mistreatment of communities of color, which leads to people being both underserved and over policed. We must divert funding from traditional policing toward community-based services, such as crisis teams, so all communities are truly safe. We must remove police from enforcing traffic infractions and low-level offenses. Taking another person’s life is the most extreme action a police officer can take, and new standards for use of force, along with increased accountability and transparency, are needed to ensure that police violence and killings end.

We join with Mr. Floyd’s family, our community, and our nation in mourning his death. We will never forget to ‘Say His Name.’ Together, we’ll work to ensure that one day, we can remember George Floyd in celebration of the true justice for all achieved in his name.

We must build on the movement their actions and this conviction represent by enacting the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and putting an end to this pattern and practice of abuse.

We profoundly appreciate that justice has been served by the jury’s decision, but today is not a day to celebrate. Rather, it is a time for somber remembrance of George Floyd and all the lives those lost to unjustified police violence. It is a time to rededicate ourselves to building a community of trust that keeps all Americans safe.”