April 20, 2021
A message from Thomas Mengler, J.D., President, and Sheri King, Ph.D., Associate Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Our nation has spent the past three weeks witnessing the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with the death of George Floyd. Today, the jury entered a finding of guilty on three counts (second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter). We must trust the process: that Chauvin’s right to a trial by a jury of his peers was rightly conducted and justice was served. Some members of our community will see this as a celebration of long-overdue accountability for racially motivated abuse of police discretion, while others will be disappointed by the verdict for the convicted individual and by extension for the police force at large.
There are a few points we hope we all can collectively agree on: systemic racism has been and continues to be pervasive in this country’s history and current reality; we have a responsibility to actively work toward being anti-racist, as individuals and as a community; our criminal justice system is a man-made construct, implemented by human beings. Sometimes we get things right. Sometimes we get things wrong. We have seen evidence of both over the years. Today, justice was served for George Floyd. Yet, our work to eradicate racism, abuse of power and systemic injustice is not over.
As a Catholic and Marianist university, we are committed to upholding the dignity of each person, to caring for one another as brother and sister, to having a preferential option for those who are vulnerable. We must prioritize and amplify the voices of those who are discriminated against, specifically our Black community. In one of Vatican II’s final documents, Gaudium et Spes, Pope Paul VI poignantly called our faith community to task: “If you want peace, work for justice.” Let us support each other in advocating for and actively creating right relationships and seeking justice.