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Justice for George Floyd: Wilson Center Statement on the Derek Chauvin Verdict

May 25, 2020 is a day written in history that many Americans and global citizens will never forget. The murder of George Floyd sparked global solidarity against police brutality and systemic racism within the United States and abroad, and brought long-standing racial issues to the fore.

April 20, 2021 is another day that many will never forget. Although the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd is an important step for police accountability, true justice can only be achieved through systemic change. President Biden remarked on the Derek Chauvin trial that America has endured a 240-year long “…tug of war between the American ideal that we’re all created equal and the harsh reality that racism has long torn us apart.” We understand that this guilty verdict cannot bring back George Floyd, or serve as a panacea for the deep-rooted racism endemic in America, nor stop police violence and brutality against Black people in this country.

While there may be some sense of renewed hope within the country, we continue to seek justice for Breonna Taylor, Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, and the countless lives taken at the hands of police. We have a long road ahead of us as we address systemic racial bias and the continued threat that racism, white supremacy, and police brutality pose for Black communities in particular. True police reform is only sustainable through support by key stakeholders, both inside and outside of law enforcement. This must be a collaborative effort across all levels of American society, through intent, dialogue, action, and legislation.

Criminal justice reform and racial equity are nonpartisan issues that American society must address in order to create a more safe and equitable future, and to maintain global leadership in freedom, democracy, and human rights. We must recognize America’s painful history and shortcomings in order to move forward and come together. As a leading foreign policy think tank, the Wilson Center has an opportunity to provide a window to domestic policy to international audiences. We intend to build confidence around the world in America’s ability to reconcile its past.

The Wilson Center stands by our colleagues, our neighbors, our friends, and Black communities in the struggle for racial and social justice. We hope that George Floyd will be remembered for his humanity, for being a son, a father, a brother, and that his family can find peace during this time.