April 20, 2021

Statement in Response to Derek Chauvin Verdict

Today’s conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin brings temporary relief but there is still much work ahead in holding corrupt officers accountable and breaking down white supremacist systems. George Floyd deserved justice. We continue to hold those who knew and loved him in positive thought during this time. In his memory, and the many others who have been victimized and killed before him, we must continue the fight to dismantle all forms of oppression including police brutality, racially-motivated attacks and discriminatory police practices.

Over the past few weeks, as we have waited, yet again, with bated breath for a single verdict, I have reflected on what this means not only for Black and Brown communities, but also for our society as a whole.

We know that the racist violence for which Derek Chauvin was convicted was no anomaly. He was not one bad apple in an otherwise fresh barrel. In the past year alone, the murder of George Floyd was one of many examples of racist violence perpetuated by the police. Police violence on Black and Brown people is directly connected to the police violence against anti-police brutality protesters this past summer, directly connected to the white nationalist insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in January and directly connected to the recent wave of anti-Asian hate crimes across the nation. It is all a product of 400 years of oppression and white supremacy. Racism is not a dusty relic, nor is it something unique to policing. It is a fundamental and foundational part of the American experiment—from Portland, Ore. to Minneapolis, Minn.

In July 2020, Meyer formed Justice Oregon for Black Lives, a five-year, $25 million initiative to deepen support for Black-centered organizations, uplift a just system of community well-being and invest in long-term strategic changes. Justice Oregon for Black Lives is the largest initiative in our 38-year history, with an explicit understanding that combating racial injustice will improve the lives of all Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) in Oregon. It is vital work, which is why we have already begun investing in such issue areas as decarceration and decriminalization, abolishment of the prison-industrial complex, hate tracking and advocacy, redefining public safety beyond policing and cross-cultural approaches to racial justice.

Meyer is committed to standing with the Black community as we continue to call out injustices and demand accountability. As we move forward, we will continue to assess how we show up in ways that challenge racism and bias, to ensure we’re contributing to making society more equitable, fair and peaceful for Black people in Oregon and around the nation.

-Michelle