The Verdict is In

In our most recent newsletter, Osborne staff respond to the conviction of Derek Chauvin. 

You can read the newsletter in its entirety here.  


When I graduated from law school (nearly 50 years ago), my parents framed a cartoon for me (probably from The New Yorker), showing a judge looking at the jury after reading the verdict with the caption: 

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury:  you can’t send me a verdict that says, “We’re all guilty.”

I thought of that when the Chauvin verdict came in. And within minutes, I received a torrent of texts, and within a few hours I got “statements” from at least a dozen leaders of organizations and corporations, and by now I have a huge collection of emails with subject lines ranging from “rare instance of public accountability,” to “this isn’t justice,” to “the time for change is now,” to “yesterday’s verdict was a victory.” 

The one thing I knew was that I could not talk about my reflections on this important moment (within days and hours of three other police killings of Black people, age 13, 16, and 20) without asking our staff for their reflections, because this moment calls for collective experience and actions, not my own. So here are some of them:
The guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin was not justice. It was accountability. As he was being found guilty, another Black child lost her life to the police. This is America, business as usual. We don't need allies, we need abolitionists, reconstructionists, fighters, who will fight with us, not for us. The system will never be fixed, it needs to be dismantled and rethought. But we also need to have an honest and open conversation with our White brothers and sisters about America's long standing relationship with racism be it overt or not. Until they can see us as brothers and sisters and not the enemy, this cycle will never end. – ACO

My thoughts about the George Floyd verdict: I was relieved. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. I am grateful because I don't have to watch George Floyd's death over and over again. It was traumatizing seeing him on the ground and the police knee on his neck. That made me think of my son who is a year younger. I don't think I ever cried that much in my life because it made things so real, where I thought about my son and his police encounters. Chantla spoke about calling her son every morning, so I do 2 and 3 times just to hear his voice, which is a trauma I live with every single day. – Denise McFarlan 

In what seems record time jurors have reached a unanimous guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial. This guilty verdict will not bring George Floyd back to our world. It is our hope that his family feel some sense of closure or relief and yet we still must fight the very monster responsible for creating the conditions that allowed this atrocity to happen while dreaming for a world where our dignity is intact, where we are truly seen as the same. This is all I have, I'm emotionally spent. – Monica Tolliver

As a formerly incarcerated individual, who happens to be Black as well as transgender, this verdict in my opinion is the result of "Generations" of disrespect, setbacks and systematic murder at the hands of police and their supporters. As an organization which is about: Transforming lives, communities and the criminal justice system, we can only provide avenues and pathways for the community affected most. To lives which are safe, inclusional and filled with equity Hopefully, as this verdict gathers "the real moment" ...maybe just maybe…this WILL be an awakening. Cause I'm numb. – Grace DeTrevarah    

Guilty on all three counts - I could have never imagined this. What a sense of hope this conviction brings to communities of color. People of color, especially the lives of Black people have been marginalized and devalued far too long in America's history. Although we have a long road to recovery ahead of us, accountability is very good start. – Janaya L. Snell, Esq.

As a licensed medical professional, I am used to being held to a high standard of performance. Our society expects and deserves this. Likewise our professionals in blue need to be held to a high standard of performance. We ask them to venture into dangerous and evolving situations that require the presence of mind to react in a manner that uses the various tools in their toolbox in an appropriate manner. In other words, not every situation encountered is a nail that needs to be hammered. Hopefully, as our emergency response system moves forward with the implementation of a national 988 number for behavioral health emergencies in 2022, our professionals in blue will have gentler and more effective tools in their toolbox to work with a society on edge. One conviction will not reconcile previous tragic police interactions or prevent future ones. The remedy requires trust building and loving cooperation by all. – Todd Patton, MD

I am very apprehensive to celebrate at this time, as I pray for the family of George Floyd. I look forward to seeing new policies in place that will protect black and brown men who are being murdered by law enforcement officials. – Malcolm Davis

Darnella Frazier was the 17-year-old girl who videod the murder on her phone. That video, as clear visual evidence, made the whole world watch and likely sealed the deal for a guilty verdict. The concept of "bearing witness" is accessible to almost all of us in this techno age. When we see wrong being done, we should not only watch but record it. "Going viral" isn't just for stupid stunts. Derek Chauvin was an easy target, in that what he did was so heinous and caught on video... Will fundamental changes in our concept of policing come out of this? I'm more skeptical about that kind of change. – Christina Mansfield

Osborne’s Coming to Terms program enables and supports people serving long sentences for violent crimes to take responsibility for the harm they have caused, and to design a future of accountability, apology, and amends. A trial that reaches a verdict of guilty for a sworn officer who murdered a man on videotape is not accountability. The defendant did not in any way take responsibility for what he did, and the witnesses who said he failed to follow the correct procedure for killing someone did not take responsibility either, nor reassure me that this verdict would have happened if a 17-year old bystander with a camera had not been an upstander. And while our culture depends on prison and punishment as the solution to every problem, we are about to learn – if we didn’t know this already – that the pound of flesh this trial has given us will either leave us hungry for more punishment, or ravenous for true justice and healing. – Liz Gaynes