The Derek Chauvin Trial: Students respond

On March 8,  the nation watched as Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin went on trial for the murder of George Floyd. The trial, which had Chauvin facing charges of third and second degree murder, as well as second degree manslaughter, took place 287 days after the murder of Floyd on May 25, 2020.

Testimonies from over 30 witnesses, including the at the time 17-year-old girl who originally filmed Floyd’s murder from her phone, left those watching in tears. Statements from Minneapolis firefighter Genevieve Hanson, who was off duty when she witnessed the murder, and Charles McMillian, a man who interacted with Floyd and Chauvin at the time of Floyd’s murder, left the courtroom silent. Hanson said that when she expressed concern for Floyd’s health while she was watching the murder take place as a bystander, and offered her help, she was disregarded. When asked if this frustrated her, she replied “yes,” while fighting back tears. McMillian, after being shown body-cam footage of the murder, broke down in tears. “I feel helpless,” McMillian said. Chauvin did not testify.

Chauvin’s trial lasted three weeks, and the verdict was guilty- third degree murder, second degree murder, and second degree manslaughter. Chauvin could potentially face up to 40 years in prison for this conviction.

What has the response been from high schoolers to this step forward from our criminal justice system, or is it even considered a step forward? Have Bellarmine students been actively keeping up with the key moments of this trial over the last few weeks, and, if not, why?

Junior Alexandra Cathersal said this: “I was following the trial and some of the testimonies. I thought that the testimonies were very powerful and also very insightful for the trial as a whole.” When asked her opinion on the verdict and what it represents for the United States, she said this: “I think the verdict was a step in the right direction towards more justice reform, but we still have so much work to do and we, as a nation and also the Bellarmine community, need to do better by listening to those speaking up about their experiences and demand that we hold people accountable for their actions.”

As former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s trial reached its verdict, it brought about many questions regarding this country’s recent responses to racial injustice and police brutality over the last few years. Though Chauvin was found guilty of all three charges he was put on trial for, what about the other three officers involved with Floyd’s murder? Justice was served, but not for everyone who is at as much fault as Chauvin, so can we even call it justice? As the nation progresses in the fight against systemic racism and discrimination, it also fights to answer these questions.