FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 20, 2021
WASHINGTON, DC - Today, nearly one year after the death of George Floyd, a jury formally announced that his killer – former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin – is guilty of all charges. Sojourners Founder Jim Wallis and Sojourners President Rev. Adam Russell Taylor gave the following joint statement in response:
Guilty on all changes was the jury’s verdict on Derek Chauvin for the homicide of George Floyd. We can feel collective relief with this momentous verdict, even though we know that no single verdict in a single trial will equal justice and that this moment of accountability will not bring George Floyd back to his loved ones and community. This verdict does open the door to long overdue transformation of policing and criminal justice in America—and we should settle for nothing less.
It is critical that our nation remembers what forces led to this verdict of accountability; and that it should not take so much in the future to convict police for abuse and lethal violence against black people and other people of color. That it took such a dramatic and painful video that the whole world saw tells us so much. That it took police leaders taking the highly unusual public and legal stand against an officer in their own department, when that should be normal in a case like this. That it took these individual jurors with a global audience seeing again and again with their own eyes the torture and killing of a black man by a white cop. That it took extending the trauma of George Floyd’s family and friends, and then extending more trauma to millions of others—including so many of our families and friends. That it took the evidence of this brutal murder being so overwhelming and incontrovertible, shows us just how hard it still is to convict police officers who violate and kill black and brown Americans because of their skin color; which remains a tragic and senselessly common practice of American law enforcement. It should not take such a video, or a world changing movement in response, to protect and ensure justice for citizens of color in the yet to be United States in America. It should not take the whole world to bring justice for one man. This time it did; but it should not require that for the future.
We are clearly not there yet and must not rest until we are. The jurors in this trial of Derek Chauvin recognized George Floyd’s humanity; and that is exactly what it will take to completely change our law enforcement and criminal justice systems. And as followers of Jesus, we must also commit to protect and affirm Imago Dei, the foundational belief that George Floyd and every person is made in God’s very likeness and image. This deep spiritual and theological commitment requires all of us Christians to work toward dismantling the criminalization and dehumanization of black lives. Justice requires repair, restoration, and transformation and that is where we must now go.
Thanks be to God for the life of George Floyd, for his family, for the people, including many teenagers, who stood up to power at the moment of his death; for the massive multi-racial movement that Floyd’s death provoked and strengthened; for the changes in perspectives of so many in our a nation due to these terrible events, and for all of those in a new generation who will commit themselves to fighting and working toward a fair and just law enforcement and criminal justice system in America. We are prayerful and hopeful that George Floyd’s life and death can lead to make us better people in a better nation and world.