To the Teacher:
Following the April 20 conviction of police officer Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd, give students a chance to reflect on the news and share their thoughts and feelings. See these guidelines for addressing upsetting events in the classroom.
In the coming days, take time to check back in with students, and if possible, use this event as a teaching opportunity going forward.
Keep in mind too the need to provide support and encouragement for students during this extremely challenging year. See this activity on Looking for Good During Challenging Times.
Tell students that we’ll take a few moments today to share our thoughts and feelings about the conviction of Derek Chauvin:
On Tuesday, April 20, a Minneapolis jury found police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all three charges brought against him for the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2021: second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.
The conviction came after a year of intense protests across the country and the world demanding justice for George Floyd and the countless other Black and brown people who have been murdered at the hands of the police. They were the largest protests in U.S. history.
Moment of Silence
Ask students for a moment of silence to remember George Floyd and his family.
Take a moment also to remember all the other people who have killed by the police in the U.S., and the loved ones they left behind.
Responses to the Verdict
Across the country, the response to the news of Derek Chauvin’s conviction was immediate. At the intersection where George Floyd was killed, a crowd had gathered to hear the verdict. When it was announced, some people cheered, others sobbed. Many began to chant, “Black lives matter.”
Share with students these images from across the U.S.: https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/20/us/gallery/derek-chauvin-trial-reaction/index.html
In his response to the verdict, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who led the prosecution of Chauvin, said that the guilty verdicts against Chauvin were the culmination of "long, hard, painstaking work." But he said that the outcome, after three weeks of testimony, should not be called justice:
“I would not call today’s verdict justice, however, because justice implies true restoration. But it is accountability, which is the first step towards justice. And now the cause of justice is in your hands…. That is a social transformation that says that nobody is beneath the law, and no one is above it. This verdict reminds us that we must make enduring systemic societal change.”
Sharing Thoughts and Feelings
Either in an in-person circle or remotely, give each student a chance to share their thoughts and feelings in response to some or all of the prompts below. Remind students that they can always choose to pass if they like.
- What is one thought, feeling, or reflection you have about this news?
- What is one thing you are grateful for?
- What is one thing you are upset about?
- What is one wish you have for the future?
- What is one thing we can do to bring about this wish?
- What other thoughts, feelings, or reflections would you like to share?
Thank students for what they have shared.
In closing, ask them to share a wish that they have for the family of George Floyd and others who have lost loved ones.