Pelton provides insight on Chauvin verdict and calls for police reform


Photo: Beacon Archive

President M. Lee Pelton condemned the police killing of George Floyd in a statement released to the Emerson Community Sunday night.

By Frankie Rowley, Content Managing Editor

President M. Lee Pelton mourned the loss of George Floyd and called for an end to violence and hate against Black people in a letter addressing the Emerson community Tuesday evening. 

The letter comes following the conclusion of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin—who was found guilty on all three counts of murder and manslaughter charges against him on Tuesday. 

Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and twenty-eight seconds on May 25, 2020, causing his death and sparking a nationwide reckoning with systemic racism and police brutality. Chauvin was convicted of second and third-degree murder as well as second-degree manslaughter. As a result, Chauvin will likely spend decades behind bars.

“He was found guilty on all three charges,” Pelton wrote. “But let us not forget that Derek Chauvin was aided and abetted in his awful murder by three other officers: one white, the other two of African and Asian descent.”

Pelton lauded Darnella Frazier, the 17-year-old who recorded Floyd’s arrest and murder on her phone.

“Most important, let us not forget the terrible impact on the brave seventeen-year-old Darnella Frazier, whose film captured the nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds of Derek Chauvin pressing his knee into George Floyd’s neck until he cried out for his Mama and took his last breath,” Pelton wrote. “She was courageous and brave.”

Viewers waited anxiously for the verdict to be announced and for the 330-day period between Floyd’s death and Chauvin’s conviction to conclude. . President Joe Biden said the guilty verdict of Chauvin was “a step forward,” in a speech given from the White House this afternoon.

“It’s not enough,” Biden said. “We can’t stop here.”

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris called on Congress to swiftly address police reform. 

Pelton called on readers to “acknowledge—beginning today—that we, all of us—including the community of the educated folk—are deeply implicated in this terrible truth” following with a  reminder that now is not a time for celebration. 

“It is a time for reflection and resolve, of true bravery and courage,” Pelton wrote. “A time to confront, head-on, hate, fear and ignorance in all of their various forms and manifestations These killings must stop. As U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings reminded us while he was still among us: ‘C’mon now, we’re better than this.’ Yes, we are. Yes, we must be.”

Pelton also reflected upon other recent, fatal police shootings of Black people—including those of 20-year-old Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota and 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Chicago. 

“These deaths are a reminder of the other pandemic that plagues these United States: the fear of Black people, but especially the fear of Black men and boys in public spaces,” he wrote. “A fear of their bodies. Sadly, there is no vaccine yet discovered and manufactured to eradicate it. It lives on in the hearts and minds of many Americans. It conjures up a racist past of angry white men stringing up a Black man to a tree as white women and even white children look on in celebration and merriment, taking with them the trophies of the Black man’s body – an ear here, a finger there.”

“When will it stop?” he continued. “When will those of us in places of power, privilege and influence, in our thunderous voices, exclaim to the heavens above: ‘Enough. It is enough.’”

Pelton ended the statement on a somber note, saying he will not be considering the decision as a win. 

“Some will celebrate tonight. Some will dance in the streets,” he said. “But not me.”

“I hear the somber and sorrowful voices of the past (and of the future) calling to me about this disease that ravages our country, desecrating the promise of America, blaspheming its much-lauded beauty,” he stated.