Reflecting on the Chauvin Trial Verdict

Apr 20 2021

Dear Members of the Columbia Engineering Community,

In recent days, we have anxiously followed the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd. Witnessing the brutality of George Floyd’s murder reawakened us all to the disturbing reality of horrific acts of violence continually perpetrated against Black Americans. Today’s verdict brings some sense that justice can prevail, but we also recognize much more is needed from all of us, as individuals and as a collective community, to confront the longstanding injustice and systemic racism in our country.

I invite you to read the reflection below from President Bollinger on this historic ruling.


Mary C. Boyce

Dean of Engineering

Morris A. and Alma Schapiro Professor


Dear fellow members of the Columbia community,

Having devoted much of my professional life to the law, and to the ideal of the rule of law, I find the verdict in the killing of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin to be both heartening and depressing. Justice has been met in this case, but it cannot erase the decades and centuries of injustices to Black people. Our collective awareness of this harsh and continuing reality seems—sadly and shockingly—to ebb and flow. If we learned anything from the Civil Rights Movement centered around the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education, it is that only persistent and painstaking efforts will bring true and comprehensive justice. I have waited for legal judgments before, but none has been more important than this one today, in a state court in Minnesota, to recommitting the society to removing the practices of invidious discrimination against Black Americans. 


Lee C. Bollinger