Ayanna Miller-Smith, doctoral student of criminology and justice policy, participated in yesterday’s university-wide panel on the guilty verdicts in the trial against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. She joined several Northeastern University faculty and staff to offer reflections on the verdicts and consider whether or not this moment marks a turning point in the nation’s acknowledgment of and accountability for racial justice.
Miller-Smith offered that the verdicts represented “accountability, but not justice.” She echoed the remarks of other scholars that the verdicts “don’t bring back George Floyd, and they don’t reduce the trauma of seeing a Black man take his last breaths on camera.”
“I don’t think we should be satisfied or placated,” said Miller-Smith, who is also a member of the Northeastern University Police Department Advisory Board, formed in June 2020 among a number of measures by the university to confront anti-Black bias. “We have to start investing in prevention rather than just intervention,” she said.
For Rod K. Brunson, the Thomas P. O’Neill Jr. Chair of Public Life and professor of criminology, criminal justice, and political science at Northeastern, the verdict was “an inflection point.”
“It was a much-needed step forward that should also mobilize movements for greater police accountability,” he said. “Bystander and police body cameras have made abundantly clear to the entire nation the reality of what was inherently known by some minority communities: We need police reform even if we don’t agree on what it looks like, yet.”
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