Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
I’m writing on today’s verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd. Last year’s killing, which was captured on video and shared to the world, sparked massive protests against racial inequity.
No doubt many of you have been watching the news hoping that justice would be delivered fairly. While we all relived the horrific details of this case, a Minneapolis police officer fatally shot another unarmed Black man, Daunte Wright, during a routine traffic stop. It is almost unbelievable how close in distance these two traumatic events have happened. In the same week, the city of Chicago braced for civic unrest after releasing footage of the police shooting of a 13-year-old child, Adam Toledo.
This week’s guilty verdict is a small but important step that deserves a moment of reflection. We must continue to seek out justice on all fronts, support one another, and hold one other accountable.
Our Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Erwin de Leon is convening a panel tomorrow for students, faculty, and staff to discuss the news and its implications. We will send details in a followup email.
University Life and the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement hosted a forum today, Racial Justice, the Chauvin Trial and Beyond. I urge everyone to watch the conversation, which included Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement Dennis A. Mitchell and Professors Carmela Alcántara, Farah Jasmine Griffin, Bernard Harcourt, and Josef Sorett, if you did not have the opportunity to join live.
As part of the School of Professional Studies, we are all engaged in efforts to make the world a better one, using our unique talents and passions that are either inherent in us or that we are growing here at Columbia. If we stand together, our efforts will not be in vain. Let us go forward in our studies, our teaching, and our careers with renewed resolve to take on challenges that might seem to be insurmountable, with deeply felt compassion and respect for one another.
Interim Dean, School of Professional Studies
Executive Vice Provost, Columbia University
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