Division News & Statements

Statement from President Mantella: George Floyd Murder Trial Verdict & Community Ongoing Steps

April 20, 2021

Dear Campus Community,

The jury in the murder trial of George Floyd has rendered its verdict and found former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter. A step towards justice has been made today, but it does not discount the continuing reality that people of color face in our country and the work we have ahead. Our hearts remain with the family of and all those close to Mr. Floyd.

Since Mr. Floyd’s death, Minnesota and America have grappled with actions against people of color by some police officers that have ripped at our hearts and undermined our belief in equal justice under the law. We will continue to use education and advocacy to create change locally and systemically, while we continue to prioritize criminal justice reform where everyone can be offered equal protection under the law. Systemic reform will not happen overnight and so we must remain vigilant to hold those who abuse power responsible wherever and whenever we see it.

At my request, Grand Valley’s School of Criminal Justice and Police Academy and Grand Valley Police Department are at work on solutions. Following the killing of Mr. Floyd, I asked the Police Academy to lead the way in enhancing public safety education with more robust requirements for diversity, inclusion, and de-escalation for future law enforcement personnel. In addition, I called for a convening of a Campus Safety Task Force to review current policy and practices and recommend change related to our own campus safety. GVPD Chief Brandon DeHaan led a listening tour over the last academic year and we will now move on convening an independent task force to review our own community safety practices and provide any appropriate recommendations. More details are available at www.gvsu.edu/inclusion/charge.

We are working to schedule a community discussion for any who would like to contribute to our campus efforts or provide feedback. In addition, campus resources continue to be available for any who may need support. The University Counseling Center offers support for students experiencing overwhelming emotions and the Human Resources Office provides a number of resources for employees. The Division of Inclusion and Equity is also available for support by email at inclusion@gvsu.edu.

In the meantime, I ask all members of our community to support each other in whatever ways you can and to unite as a community in our commitment to racial equity and inclusion. Together, we will create not only a stronger Grand Valley community, but also recommit to our responsibility to impact broader systemic change.

Sincerely,

Philomena V. Mantella, President

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Page last modified April 20, 2021