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Reaction to the Verdict of Derek Chauvin’s Guilt

A personal response from Father Dan

I love Minneapolis.  It is my hometown.  My extended family continues to live there and in its suburbs.  I intend to return there permanently whenever I am able to retire.  It has also been a city in understandable anger and turmoil since May 25, 2020, when George Floyd was murdered by former police officer Derek Chauvin.

A few moments ago I watched as Judge Peter Cahill read the three guilty verdicts, canvassed the jury, and remanded Mr. Chauvin into custody.

Media commentators, citizens of Minnesota and beyond, as well as the family of George Floyd are all sighing and exhaling the word ‘relief.’  No feelings of exhilaration or happiness, no sense that racism has been finally recognized and fully remedied.  Instead, this is a moment of temporary relief, a first step toward accountability, a call to further action, a beginning to renew – or for some, to experience for the first time - justice for all people.

Along with the common feeling of relief, many tears were shed as the verdicts were read out, my own included.  It prompted me to recall the portion of Luke’s Gospel where Jesus openly wept over the city of Jerusalem because it had not yet learned ‘all the things that make for peace.’ (Luke 19:41-42)

Minneapolis did not erupt into violence after the verdicts were announced.  For a brief moment, a tentative peacefulness seemed to descend on the city.  But in the days and weeks ahead the slow-moving wheels of justice will need to move faster and more steadily for Daunte Wright Rayshard Brooks, Daniel Prude, Breonna Taylor, Atatiana Jefferson, Aura Rosser, Stephon Clark, Botham Jean, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Freddie Gray, Janisha Fonville, Eric Garner, Michelle Cusseaux, and so many others.

Those things that ‘make for peace’ will demand honest self-examination and hard acts of reconciliation from all of us who imagine that we are neither racist nor responsible for the pain and suffering and degradation and exclusion of people of color or of anyone who lives or loves or worships or thinks in a way different from our own.  None of us can shirk the duty of making possible “liberty and justice for all.”

Our human diversity is, after all, God’s great joy.   And for those of us who profess that we are created in the image and likeness of God, we need to see and love every single human person if we are to glimpse even a bit of the size and wonder of God.

Father Daniel McMullin