By: Connie Klimek
IU South Bend Chapter of Active Minds hosted a discussion via zoom exploring thoughts and feelings on Derek Chauvin’s trial and guilty verdict.
Nicole Haas, co-president of Active Minds, greeted attendees and gave Kevin Griffith, executive director of Student Advocacy and Community Engagement, an introduction. Griffith welcomed participants and said, “This is your room and your voice.”
Griffith emphasized that the discussion is student lead and simply are facilitated by Active Minds.
Derrick Patty, learning disabilities specialist, began the discussion stating his thoughts on how quickly the verdict was delivered.
Multiple students agreed that the verdict is a positive step in striving toward raising awareness and assigning accountability to the systematic racism present within the police force and court system.
A participant commented on the feelings of those in favor of the verdict, saying that those celebrating know this is a small victory, but the United States police and judicial system still have much work to do.
In addition, a student highlighted a factor as to why the public was so angered by George Floyd’s murder, as the murder of Black Americans is statistically rising due to brutality inflicted by police.
One participant shared insight regarding police training. This participant stated that training appears to be more focused on skill qualifications rather than focusing on candidates’ mindsets and mental stability.
This comment led another participant to state the necessity of ethics training within the police force. The student shared their opinion of the police system needing reform to address the blatant racism against people of color, specifically Black people.
Participants also stated their fear in the court system’s manner of operations, in terms of loopholes that prosecutors could maneuver to acquit Chauvin. The specific scenario a participant shared was, the possibility that Chauvin may have been charged with first degree murder, rather than second degree murder. One condition of murder to be characterized as first degree is premeditation. Premeditation is a planned and intended scheme that Chauvin decided to do. Participants discussed the possibility of Chauvin being charged with first degree murder, and the prosecutors may not have had enough supporting evidence to prove this claim beyond a reasonable doubt.
This prompted another participant to share the difficulty of finding an unbiased jury in any court case, let alone a court case that made national headlines.
Students continued to share their thoughts regarding the trial, such as difficulty communicating with family members not sharing the same moral values, even with putting political values aside. One participant shared advice regarding maintaining relationships by not filtering any part of themself. The participant emphasized that if an individual wants to pursue a relationship with them, then that individual is not getting a “modified version” of the participant.
This prompted another participant to say that this participant will not compromise on upholding certain values, and if an individual does not respect that, then the participant does not want this person in their life.
Participants then transitioned to specifically speaking on the Black Lives Matter movement. One participant confronted the All Lives Matter counter-movement. This participant stated, “We know all lives matter, but the focus needs to be on justice for detrimental scrutiny toward black people.”
The conversation then turned to participants disdain towards aggressive tones of voice used to address George Floyd’s actions leading up to his murder. Participants agree that it is incredibly disrespectful to refer to a victim of murder in such an aggression manner. Additionally, participants formed a consensus regarding excuses made to defend certain police actions done in the defense of justice. The consensus that participants formed was that even those struggling with addiction and mental health should not be harmed or murdered. “Good” people, nor “bad” people in the eyes of the law, deserve to experience brutality and/or death, students agreed.
The conversation was ended by a moment of silence out of respect for George Floyd and his family, as well as anyone experiencing or who has experienced systematic racism.
Facilitators of the conversation emphasized the availability of counselors from the Student Counseling Center at IU South Bend after the conversation, in addition to availability during the summer. To schedule an appointment, visit https://students.iusb.edu/student-support-services/counseling-center/index.html or call (574) 520-4125.