Superintendent Chris Reykdal’s Statement on the Guilty Verdicts in the Derek Chauvin Murder Trial
OLYMPIA — April 20, 2021 — Today, the jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd nearly one year ago.
The message out of the courtroom today brings hope for the future. But to deliver on a future that is free from racism; a future where Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) don’t just survive in America but actually thrive in America — we have a lot of work to do before we see that future.
This trial — likely the most high-profile police brutality trial in decades — was about the power, privilege, and disregard for human life exhibited by one person. This trial was about whether an officer crossed the line, but let’s be clear: that line is so misaligned with actual justice that the lines themselves need to be on trial.
What needs to be on trial is the underlying power dynamics and systems of oppression within every aspect of the American experience, which remain largely unchallenged at the system level. What needs to be on trial is the body of laws, rules, and procedures that sustain white supremacy throughout our institutions and our society as a whole.
Today’s verdict lands as our country is grappling with a racial justice reckoning; a pandemic that has disproportionately affected BIPOC individuals; continued police brutality against BIPOC Americans; and the continued, systemic racism embedded in our institutions, including our K–12 schools.
At OSPI, we are committed to dismantling systemic barriers that result in disparate outcomes for BIPOC students in Washington. We will continue our work examining every policy, rule, and process, from student discipline to our budget priorities, from early learning to post-secondary access, to ensure that we are challenging systemic racism in K–12 education and providing equitable opportunities in education for all our students.
With that being said, we are still learning. We are beginning to implement weekly professional development and collaboration time for all of our employees to center anti-racism in our daily work. We are beginning an equity analysis of our policies and practices. We are redefining our recruitment and hiring practices. We are working to embed anti-racist goals and initiatives throughout our organization.
We all have the responsibility to do this work. To show up and speak up in our jobs, in our personal lives, for our children and for our neighbors. To show up with compassion and with an understanding of and a readiness to take action against pervasive systemic racism and anti-Blackness.
The verdict today was the right and just response to George Floyd’s murder, and it is progress. But the work doesn’t end here. Our children are watching, and we owe it to them to be fully committed to equity and justice every day.
OSPI has compiled a list of resources for educators, families, and caregivers seeking support in how to talk to their students or children about today’s verdict, racism, and police violence.