(Beaverton, OR) – In the wake of the final verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, Mayor Beaty offers words of solace, encouragement, and solidarity in an open letter to Beaverton.
Dear Neighbors, Almost one year ago, we learned that a man named George Floyd died after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin placed his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than 9 minutes. Despite Floyd’s repeated cries: “I can’t breathe,” Chauvin persisted, and Floyd was killed on the ground next to a police cruiser.
Chauvin was charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd. Recently, hours have felt like days, and days have felt like weeks as we’ve watched the trial unfold.
Minutes ago, a jury unanimously found Chauvin guilty on all counts. As the verdict was delivered, a mixture of relief and grief washed over me. This time, the system worked. Now, we need to work on the system. It should not have taken over a year’s worth of protests, a video recording, and so much more to reach a guilty verdict. Justice will only be served when we address the system that allowed this to happen.
I recognize that for many in our community, the trial has been re-traumatizing. Many are experiencing anger, grief, lament, and discouragement over how far we still must go. And for many, those feelings are intermingled with cautious hope for justice and healing. All these feelings are valid, and understandable – especially considering the ongoing violence against BIPOC communities.
Floyd’s death fanned the flame of the Black Lives Matter movement, calling for racial justice and an end to police brutality and white supremacy. The movement has been a wake-up call for many who do not identify as people of color. And for others it represents their voices and experiences finally being heard and acknowledged. We have witnessed countless protests and heard the names of victims chanted in public squares. Just in the last few weeks, Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo’s names were added to the growing list of BIPOC people killed by police.
Nationally, a major focus of the past year has been the tense, fraught, and delicate relationship between communities of color and law enforcement. Many are wondering whether any of this has brought about real change in our community. One positive outcome seems to be a general acknowledgment that systemic racism is real.
Following the increased calls for racial justice, our Human Rights Advisory Commission did the hard work of developing recommendations for the City to adopt, specifically on policing and addressing racism. We are actively engaging with those recommendations, and I am hopeful that they have provided the beginning steps for the City and for the community.
I want to say clearly that I believe Black Lives Matter. I have heard our community calling for racial justice and accountability. I know that we have not yet taken big, public steps in this regard. I’ve been in office just over 100 days and those days have been fraught with difficult conversations such as these with my council colleagues, staff, and community members. I know the City can and must do more.
As your Mayor, it is my duty and honor to be engaged with and aware of what’s going on in our community. I am committed to tirelessly working to locate and uproot systemic racism. Racism, in all its forms, will not be tolerated in our City. I recognize that we are not all on the same page, but I believe we can open the lines of communication. Empathy is going to be one of our most valuable traits as we engage in conversation. Regardless of political leanings or opinions, we are all human beings of infinite worth and we need to heal together.
Now that the trial has concluded and a verdict has been reached, I urge everyone to stay in this conversation. Your voice is needed, and I encourage you to have your voice heard through whatever channel you feel is best. If you would like to meet with me, please grab a time. I look forward to hearing from you, and to opportunities for community conversations.
We remember George Floyd.
Mayor of Beaverton
For more information, contact the Mayor’s Communication Officer at jchristy@BeavertonOregon.gov