A Statement on the Derek Chauvin Trial Verdict

A Statement on the Derek Chauvin Trial Verdict

April 21, 2021

Dear BWS School Community, 

I hope this message finds you well in body, mind, and spirit. 

Today, we parents and educators may feel a weight lifted, and a rush of relief. With the conviction of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, we know that justice can happen here and now. Yet, that relief must be tempered by the reality of what it took to get justice in this one case – a graphic and horrific video of police violence out in the open, sustained protests across the country & world, and officers breaking ranks to testify against one of their own. We have to ask if justice could have come without this massive alignment of forces.

The verdict, while a reason for hope, does not erase the fact that we who are educators and parents will always be faced with the enormous challenge of how to explain the horrors of the world to our students and our own children. We must lead and guide our young people, even as we love and comfort them to explain the challenging world around us. I write now to offer some thoughts and perspective that might help us take on that challenge in this time.

We must help our young people feel empowered. We can do that by sharing the good news.  A 17-year-old girl, Darnella Frazier, had the awareness and courage to record the video that made the possibility of justice for George Floyd. That video sparked a multi-racial, multi-generational mass movement out into the streets the likes of which have not been seen since the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 60’s. This mass movement broke the “blue wall of silence,” that so often prevents justice in cases like these and encouraged law enforcement officers to provide sworn testimony against one of their own. A diverse group of jurors—people like us—deliberated and decided unanimously, swiftly, and clearly in favor of justice. This is all good news that we should make sure our young people hear and know.

We must also prepare our young people for the world they are growing into. To do that, we must also face hard truths. In the midst of the Derek Chauvin trial and verdict, there have been several  police related shootings resulting in deaths, two of which involved children under the age of 18. There has also been a disturbing increase in young people perpetrating violence that has resulted in death and fear. The truth is that the world can be a dangerous place for young people, and we have to do everything in our power to keep them in the realm of  
good choices and out of situations where their lives are at risk, whether from police or street violence.

As we face the good and the difficult in the world, I pray that we keep some consistent messages resonating throughout our households, classrooms, and communities. Let us make sure that our young people hear these words from us and show them that we mean them through our actions.

  • We will do everything we can to keep you safe because we love you and believe in you.
  • Here, with us, you will be seen, known, and appreciated for who you are. 
  • No outside force of negativity can ever touch the good that God made in you. 
  • The Justice System has always been imperfect in America, but it gives us the opportunity to speak up for ourselves. We will always speak up for ourselves and demand our right to do so.

The Bishop Walker School will continue to convince our scholars that their lives matter by our committed investment in their success. We will continue to prepare our BWS scholars to lift themselves and their communities to their best possibilities. Our work will be part of the change we all seek in the world – to make equity and justice real in the hearts, minds, and lived potential of our scholars. Ultimately, we will live up to the wise and beautiful words of our namesake, Bishop John T. Walker, when he said, “it is God's will that we live together in harmony and peace. It's God's will that we grow beyond our racial animosities and that we must commit ourselves to continue that work. That's why I am here. I am not here for any other reason.” Ultimately, that is fundamentally why the Bishop Walker School exists, and we will continue this good work.

Michael O. Molina
Head of School