Last night, Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all 3 charges against him in the verdict of State v. Chauvin in the case of the murder of George Floyd. These charges include third-degree murder, second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Chauvin now faces up to 25 years in prison for third-degree murder, up to 40 years for second-degree murder, and up to 10 years for second-degree manslaughter. Chauvin will officially be sentenced in eight weeks.
The verdict came nearly a year after Floyd’s death, when he repeatedly pleaded “I can’t breathe” as Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. An independent autopsy carried out by experts hired by the Floyd family found asphyxiation to be the primary cause of Floyd’s death. While other autopsies suggested potentially different causes of death, all ruled Floyd’s death to be a homicide.
As expected, Chauvin’s sentencing has spurred reactions throughout the nation. Prior to the trial, President Joe Biden spoke out against Chauvin, saying the evidence against him was “overwhelming” and saying that he was “praying the verdict is the right verdict.”
Biden, alongside Vice President Kamala Harris, called Floyd’s family following the trial, saying “We’re all so relieved” with regard to the trial’s verdict. Biden also said that he hopes this trial will allow police reform efforts to gain headway in congress.
Floyd’s family shared similar sentiments as Biden and Harris.
“I feel relieved,” said one of Floyd’s brothers, Philonise Floyd, at a news conference last night reported by ABC News. “A lot of days I prayed and I hoped and I was speaking everything into existence. I said, ‘I have faith that he will be convicted.'”
Amanda Gorman, the first ever national youth poet laureate of the United States, spoke out following the trial as well.
“A reminder that victory would be George Floyd being alive,” said Gorman in a Tweet. “Every day Black Americans worry if they will be the next is another day without justice.”
Shortly after the trial’s verdict was announced, area coordinators on Albion College’s campus, including Cait Hamilton, Clare Russell and Augusta Schmidt reached out to the respective groups of students they oversee.
“I, like so many of you, have been anticipating the release of the verdict of State v. Chauvin in the case of the murder of George Floyd,” said Hamilton in an email sent out to students residing in apartments, fraternities and off-campus. “I am inviting you to join me to a debriefing and sharing space for anyone who needs the space to talk to someone about this conglomeration of the ongoing tension of police brutality we witness daily in this country against people of color.”
A peaceful gathering and protest began last night in the KC at 8 p.m. and moved toward The Rock for a moment of silence and reflection beginning at 9 p.m. A virtual option was offered to off-campus students and others who were unable to attend in person.
Another moment of silence and reflection will occur at The Rock once more today at 12 p.m.
“If you don’t want to be alone in your processing, please feel free to join and feel free to be in a space that is specifically made for you at this time,” said Hamilton, via email. “I am here for you and I want you to know you can count on me as an ally in this time.”
Albion College President Mathew Johnson also reached out to the student body following the trial, offering a video message that he and Dean Leroy Wright crafted together in the wake of the trial’s verdict.
“Today provides some hope. It demonstrates that some degree of justice is available to us,” said Johson in an email sent out to students. “But George Floyd is not with us. And so today also brings profound grief.”
For many, in addition to the deeply ingrained grief of losing Floyd, it can also be retraumatizing to recall the disturbing circumstances surrounding Floyd’s death in such detail. Both Johnson and Hamilton encouraged students to utilize their support networks as they process the trial.
“In the coming days, we will have spaces for community conversations, for healing, to share resources and to take action,” said Johnson. “For today, I ask that you take care of yourself, take care of one another and take time to process this news.”
Students are encouraged to reach out to resources available on campus, including The Office of Belonging, Counseling Services, The Chaplain’s Office and AlbionCare as well as staff and faculty for support now and always.
“Albion is committed to being boldly anti-racist, to being a place where you can feel safe to express those feelings and to being a place where you can truly feel you belong,” said Johnson.