Communication from Associate Vice Chancellor for Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Hendry Ton, M.D., MS disseminated on April 23, 2021.
On Tuesday (April 20, 2021), Derek Chauvin was formally convicted for the murder of George Floyd. Prior to the verdict, Black communities grieved and despite the weight of such grief, they courageously marched to demand justice and humanity. Communities from across the country and from all cultural groups rallied around them in numbers unprecedented in recent memory. The call for justice reverberated within the halls of the courtroom with members of law enforcement joining community members to denounce the slaying. Chauvin’s jury answered that call with a decision that “reaffirms the principle that no one is above the law, especially not a peace officer trusted with protecting a community’s safety and security,” in the words of UC President Drake and Regent Perez.
Even so, the jury’s decision to convict does not bring Mr. Floyd back to his family and it does not change the fact that our country has major problems with structural racism. Yet, we hope that the verdict brings some level of peace and healing for his family and loved ones. After prosecuting the case, Minnesota Attorney General Ellison said, "I would not call today's verdict justice, however, because justice implies true restoration," "But it is accountability, which is the first step towards justice, and now the cause of justice is in your hands."
This responsibility may feel daunting, and the impact of the verdict may have different meaning to each of us. We join Vice Chancellor Tull's call to take care of ourselves and each other, and to “take renewed breaths for justice and restorative breaths for peace.” When you are ready, please join us and our community partners as we continue the important work to dismantle the structures of racism inside and outside our health system. Learn about what our university and health system are doing to reform campus safety combat COVID-19 health inequities, dismantle structural racism, and improve the social determinants of health, and please consider joining the effort when you are ready! In closing, we highlight Chancellor May's message to breathe, hope, and lets continue to work together and find a way forward.”
Yours in health and solidarity,
Hendry Ton, M.D., M.S.
Associate Vice Chancellor for Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion