Professor Michelle Fine on the Derek Chauvin Trial and Verdict

Graduate Center Professor Michelle Fine (Psychology, Urban Education) comments on Derek Chauvin trial and verdict. 
 
Justice has been served in one situation where evidence was simply overwhelming — a videoed state-sponsored murder. Consider what we have learned about deeply embedded racial violence by state authorities; what we have learned about the frequency of police murder of people of color; about the care and commitments and courage of bystanders; about young people from diverse communities taking to the streets throughout the U.S. and the globe. We had a moment yesterday, but this is no bad apple story. This is a moment for reckoning and accountabilities. We at The Graduate Center may ask to whom are we accountable in times of unceasing evidence of state violence against communities of color.
 
I can’t stop thinking about Darnella Frazier. At 17, a junior in high school escorting a 9-year old to buy some Starbursts, she knew she had an obligation to bear witness.
 
In court, she cried: “Nights I stayed up apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and physically interacting.”


She stood steady, filmed the murder. She lit a match and the world was on fire. She lifted a veil so even white people could no longer deny. Charles Mills at The Graduate Center might say she shattered our epistemologies of ignorance. She risked her life as police threatened her with mace, and announced to the world, “They killed this man.” Darnella stirred a racial consciousness and rage around the globe, forcing all to recognize that brutal state violence against people of color is a national tradition. 
 
Perhaps she knew this is not a “bad apple” story, but a long, bloody, racialized story of policing and the carceral state in the U.S. Perhaps last week she watched 20-year-old Daunte Wright be killed by police shouting “Taser” and then 13-year-old Adam Toledo, unarmed and with hands up, gunned down “hands up” and empty.
 
Like Darnella, young people of color across New York City witness and endure state violence regularly in their communities, homes, and schools. And like Darnella, they metabolize vicious encounters with state violence into activism, organizing, resistance, art, and critical research for/with their communities.
 
At the Public Science Project at The Graduate Center, participatory research collaboratives of Graduate Center faculty and students work in solidarity with young people in movements for racial justice, to document structural violence, gather testimonies, and imagine radical possibilities. Our research feeds lawsuits, movements, theory building, community education, and campaigns to defund police, remove NYPD from their schools, to invest in youth justice. 
 
We at The Graduate Center — a public university committed to racial justice, educational access, public facing scholarship — have an obligation to bear witness with young people who dare.

 

Submitted on: APR 21, 2021

Category: General GC News