Minneapolis Trial Verdict Statement

April 21, 2021 - Mary Finn

Dear Social Science Community,

Yesterday’s guilty verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, marks nearly a year of calls for justice in the death of George Floyd and other police killings of Black people. The horrific events sparked nationwide awareness and demand for social change and for equality. 

The conviction by a jury signals a rare event, where a police officer is being held accountable for the murder of a Black man. The meaning and importance of this event will resonate differently among members of our community. Many  may view this verdict as a necessary and next step towards justice - a sign that the criminal justice system worked as it was supposed to, and will be hopeful that it can work this way again. Others may welcome this verdict, but be less optimistic that the criminal justice system will continue to hold police accountable. Perhaps, we all can agree to hope that this rare moment when the justice system rendered a guilty verdict will serve to acknowledge the wrongfulness of the loss experienced by George Floyd's family - as he was a son, a brother, an uncle, a cousin, and a father. We know that no verdict can ever make up for their loss.

As social scientists, many of us have sought, through our work, to address the pains of discrimination, and to seek ways to understand it, to prevent it, or to remedy it. We must do better to fight racism in all aspects of our lives, not just in its extreme expression as unfolded here. As a College, creating a more equitable and just world is core to who we are - it is a common thread in our teaching and learning, our research and scholarship, our service and outreach. Each day, we are working to make our world a place where all can have a voice and be heard. A world where every individual is respected and treated with decency. A world that embraces the beauty of diversity in all we do not only because it lifts all of us, but because it is the right thing to do.

As President Samuel Stanley noted in his statement, this case is impacting many in our Spartan community. We have resources available to help support our faculty, staff and students. Resources include:

Listening space events for students

Counseling and Psychiatric Services

Employee Assistance Program or employees can make an appointment (517) 355-4506.

We must continue to work to address issues of equity, systemic racism, and anti-Black violence together. I would welcome your suggestions on what you would like to see unfold in our College to elevate these efforts and continue to support each other. At the end of the day, this is a rare event that involved the murder of one Black man and the jury conviction of one police officer for that murder. None of us can control how the justice system will respond to similar cases in the future. However, as individuals, and as a community, we can choose to honor the memory of George Floyd, and other victims of police brutality, in the actions that we take every day. 


Mary A. Finn

Dean, College of Social Science

Michigan State University