KCBA Statement on Derek Chauvin Verdict
Accountability … at last. This week, the jury found Derek Chauvin guilty of murdering George Floyd. This was a small, but critical step, towards healing and accountability in our country. With his bail revoked, Chauvin now faces sentencing and the likelihood of a lengthy prison term. And, as they should, three officers will each stand trial on charges of aiding and abetting Mr. Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd.
While a step forward for accountability and justice, the jury’s verdict is not enough to address years of systemic racism. Nor does the jury’s verdict fully address the hurt, disappointment, and anguish of BIPOC people, and indeed all people, throughout the United States when they are faced once again with incidents of police brutality against people of color. This jury verdict will not bring back Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, or Philando Castile. Or closer to home, this verdict will not bring back Charleena Lyles, Che Taylor, or John T. Williams. Indeed, it is impossible to ignore that while Mr. Chauvin was on trial, police killed Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old during a routine traffic stop, and Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old, who appeared to be raising his empty hands in the air as he was shot to death.
According to a recent New York Times report, during the Chauvin trial, more than 64 persons—or more than three persons a day—died in interactions with law enforcement. More, a lot more, must be done to address the injustices, desperation, and mental health crisis that often undergird these horrific interactions.
The Derek Chauvin verdict will not return Mr. Floyd to his family, or Mr. Wright or Mr. Toledo to their parents, nor will the verdict bring Ms. Lyles back to her children. But we laud the brave men and women who returned the guilty verdict against Mr. Chauvin and the small step it represents in affirming that we are indeed a nation of laws where justice can be done.
KCBA stands with those who fight for equality, who fight for accountability, who fight for anti-racist practices and systems, and who fight for their lives. We recognize our obligation to speak out in times such as these to reaffirm our commitment to just legal institutions and the role of lawyers and the bar in ending systemic practices resulting in exclusion and the perpetuation of racism.
President, King County Bar Association
April 21, 2021