Statement from UMass leadership regarding the guilty verdicts in the Derek Chauvin trial

This verdict is an affirmation that Black Lives do Matter, and in particular the life of George Floyd.

Our nation will long be haunted by the grotesque images of Mr. Floyd’s murder. This verdict is important for Mr. Floyd’s family, for the nation and for the rule of law. In a democracy, there is always a critical need for accountability, and the former police officer who bears primary responsibility for this unconscionable act has been held accountable. While this verdict provides a measure of relief, nothing will ever truly ease the burden the Floyd family bears or stem their pain, and we again extend our sympathies to Mr. Floyd’s family.

Each of our campuses is taking tangible steps to support students and their communities as our nation is suffering from a pandemic of violence directed against Black Americans, Asian-Americans, and communities of color in general. Just as our nation has mobilized to defeat the Covid 19 pandemic, we need to once and for all defeat the plague of racism and hate. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “This is no time for apathy or complacency … We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.”

Higher education’s role in seeking truth, justice and creating new knowledge is critical to the pursuit of a nation where communities of color live safely and free of racism and discrimination. In this moment, we re-commit to the cultivation of an anti-racist, just, and equitable economy and society for all.