Guilty Verdict in George Floyd’s Death a Step Toward Accountability, But Crisis of Racism in Policing Continues

Statement by Dr. Kathleen Rest, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Apr 21, 2021

WASHINGTON (April 21, 2021)—A Minnesota jury has found former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murder in the death of George Floyd, whose killing last year inspired a wave of nationwide protest over racism and police violence. This trial highlights the costs of racism to communities across the country and the need for reforms that will stop the extrajudicial killing of Black people and people of color; challenge police use of force, especially deadly force; and increase police accountability, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Below is a statement by Dr. Kathleen Rest, executive director of UCS.

“It is a relief to see the jury respond to the overwhelming evidence in this trial. But George Floyd’s death is not an isolated incident, and the guilty verdict rendered is not justice, though it is accountability. The evidence of racial discrimination and implicit bias in law enforcement is overwhelming. Black people are more likely to be killed by police or die in police custody than any other demographic. Even as Chauvin faced trial, new incidents of police violence continued. These deaths aren’t just statistics—each one is a human life irreplaceably lost to their family, their community, and the world, and the depraved indifference with which Black life has been treated in this country has created the climate of injustice we see today. Yesterday’s verdict can never return George Floyd to his family, but it does mark a break in the cycle, even if just for a moment, of the theft of Black life at the hands of law enforcement with impunity. We are grateful to the jury, community members, and bystanders who all bore witness to this tragedy and did something about it.

“It’s incumbent on all of us to affirm that Black Lives Matter; that no one, even law enforcement, is above the law; and that we must actively work in our own communities, across communities, and nationally to fight racial discrimination and hatred and support reforms that will bring about prevention, real justice, and true measures of accountability.”