The trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin is over, and he has been found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in the May 2020 death of George Floyd.
We Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids fully support the decision of the jury to convict Mr. Chauvin, and we pray this verdict and the evidence in the trial that led to it will provide impetus for needed change in police training and practices. There is still so much work yet to be done to bring justice and healing to our nation, especially for our sisters and brothers of color, as is evidenced by the most recent killings by police of 13-year-old Adam Toledo and 20-year-old Daunte Wright. We call upon our city, state, and federal political representatives, as well as law enforcement at all levels, to evaluate current police practices and to implement changes that better serve and protect all citizens.
We also recognize that the work of justice and healing begins with individuals and communities. Mr. Floyd’s murder prompted critically important dialogue, awareness, and action across our country. It prompts Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids to wrestle with our own privilege and to educate ourselves more fully on racism and oppression. We call upon our fellow citizens to join with us as we continue to engage in the soul searching that these acts of injustice against our sisters and brothers of other races demand of us.
In the wake of this verdict, we stop and pray. We pray for George Floyd, his family, and all who loved him. We pray for a growing consciousness of the fear lived out daily by our Black sisters and brothers and all people of color. We pray that this verdict will spark long overdue justice and anti-racism reforms that are desperately needed to build a stronger, more inclusive country for all of us and the next generations. We pray, too, for Mr. Chauvin and his family as he awaits his sentencing for his crime.
We recognize that this guilty verdict has many people worried about their loved ones who work in law enforcement. We pray that all law enforcement officers interact safely with the people they are called to serve whether assisting them or arresting them. We pray that they, too, remain protected from threats and violence. Wherever we stand politically, there must be a shared humanity and willingness to improve our communities together. We know the gospel of Jesus Christ calls us to embrace repentance and forgiveness. We pray for this capacity.
There may be protests in the coming days due to this verdict. We join our voices with those of other religious orders, churches, organizations, and individuals urging nonviolence. We urge all people to join us and follow the examples of great leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, and Mother Teresa, and turn towards nonviolent solutions.
To be true followers of Jesus today also includes embracing his teaching about nonviolence”~ Pope Francis, 2017