Jewish Organizations’ Statements After Derek Chauvin Found Guilty

After the guilty verdicts of the former Minneapolis policeman who killed George Floyd on May 25, 2020, a number of Jewish organizations released statements:

Jewish Community Action:

Today, Derek Chauvin was convicted on all counts for the murder of George Floyd. He is the first white police officer in Minnesota history to be convicted for killing a Black person.

This was the right decision. Derek Chauvin, and the three other officers who assisted him, should be held accountable for killing George Floyd. For too long police officers have been shielded from consequences for brutality against communities of color.

Despite this ruling, we know that the system that allowed Chauvin to take George Floyd’s life is still in place. Just over a week ago, the same system stole the life of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center.

Our current system of policing has caused so much harm. It’s going to take a lot more than the conviction of one man to heal our communities.

In the Jewish tradition, the process of teshuvah, or “repair”, begins with a commitment to never repeat our mistakes. The first step to justice, to repair, is to transform the system so that we never lose another life to police violence again.

At JCA, we believe that this transformation starts with honest and challenging conversations about public safety and policing within our communities. If you would like to be a part of those discussions, click here.

Read this article in TC Jewfolk featuring a training by our Community Safety Organizer Enzi Tanner on how this is the beginning, not the end, of our pursuit for justice.

Multiracial Jewish Association of Minnesota

Three hundred and thirty days have passed since George Floyd’s life was taken. For many of us, those past three hundred and thirty days have felt like a lifetime.

The Multiracial Jewish Association of Minnesota supports the conviction of Derek Chauvin on all three counts. This is the first time in Minnesota state history that a white officer has been held accountable for killing a black man. The world can finally call this horrific act of violence against George Floyd what we knew it to be all along: murder.

This verdict cannot restore Mr. Floyd’s life or the great loss to his family. This verdict does not erase the centuries of trauma to the Black community. True justice would mean George Floyd was alive today. And Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor, and countless others.

These issues are systemic and extend far beyond the bad acts of a few police officers. They are deeply rooted in the law enforcement and justice systems, defined by practices like profiling, disparate treatment, and excessive use of force against Black and brown communities.

The work is far from over. We know that this verdict is an exception to a long history of acquittals and failure to charge police officers. We are cautiously hopeful, knowing that just days ago, Daunte Wright was killed by a Brooklyn Center police officer. With this in mind, we are all called to continue to fight for a more just future. A more fair justice system. A less militant law enforcement system that can truly protect and serve the people. A world where every life reaches its fullest potential.

As an organization, MJA holds firm in our continued commitment to pursuing justice and peace for the BIPOC community–pursuing equity, empowerment, and a true sense of community for BIPOC and JOCSM in every space we occupy. We are eager to work with our allies and supporters in reaching these goals.

We pray:
Please, Holy One, remove all suffering and grief. rule over us, Eternal, You alone, with love and with compassion. Help us achieve justice through the rule of law. Blessed are you, Adonai, who loves righteousness and peace.

Joint statement of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, Minneapolis Jewish Federation and St. Paul Jewish Federation:

While no guilty verdict can bring George Floyd back or make his family and friends fully whole for their loss or unwind the trauma inflicted on the broader African American community, we hope that today’s decision brings some measure of justice, healing, and peace to his loved ones and for all Minnesotans.

We know that the problem is not just the murderous misconduct of a few police officers. Systemic failures in law enforcement, as they are in so many areas of society, are real and harm not just communities, but good officers who are committed to doing the job with integrity and fairness.

As such, systemic solutions which include not just police accountability, but also address disparities in housing, education, employment, healthcare, and income are needed now to ensure that Minnesota is a great place to live for all its residents.

We offer our solidarity to the broader African American community, including Black Jews and Jews of color. Additionally, we pledge to be part of the difficult, but necessary work of repairing the relationship between the police and those they are entrusted to protect and serve.

Finally, we thank the members of our Minnesota National Guard for their service in protecting local communities. We do so with full appreciation that the presence of the Guard on our streets is far from ideal and traumatic to many. We hope that our fellow Minnesotans will come to know the Guard as we know them, neighbors who share our commitment to diversity, inclusion, and service.

Shir Tikvah Congregation

When the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE, the rabbis tore their clothes in grief, collapsed into the dust, cried out the names of their dead beloveds, and wailed so fiercely their weeping pierced the universe. They understood the importance of making space for communal grieving, for mourning what and who was lost, in order to sanctify and give meaning to our lives, in order to clear the way for new worlds to be built. 

Our colleague, Rabbi Sharon Brous teaches, “Grief is a spiritual and moral mandate and public grief is an act of rebellion against the world as it is. It means lifting up the story of people who have died. It means saying their names.”

We grieve the deaths of so many Black and Brown and Asian and Native and Muslim and Jewish and immigrant beloveds at the hands of police. We cry their names. George Floyd (z”l). Daunte Wright (z”l). Adam Toledo (z”l). We cry out for lives that were brutally stolen by state violence. We say their names to center their humanity. And, in so doing, reach towards our own.

As the murder trial for Derek Chauvin comes to a close, we know that our hearts are stretched beyond capacity with anguish, grief, rage, despair, fear, conviction. 

We recognize and honor the myriad ways grief, rage, exhaustion and hope pour out onto our streets. We recognize and honor the importance of gathering together – in the face of pandemic and violent repression. May the righteous minyan of mourners and justice seekers – thousands-strong – continue in strength, wisdom, and generosity. May all those who are now laid low in sorrow know in their bodies the words of the Psalmist הזורעים בדימעה, ברינה יקצורו – hazor’im bdim’ah, berinah yiktzoru – may those who sow in tears gather again, together, in joy.

Jewish tradition does not demand we have the right answers; Judaism calls us forth to show up for each other, to lament, to pray, to study, to care for each other, to lift our prophetic voices in cries for justice and human dignity, to tend to the wounded and the suffering in our midst. 

As we move through these next days, reach out to each other, check in on each other. Breathing wishes of accompaniment and support especially to community members of color and your family members.

In the post-Temple era, one world was dying as a new world was being born. Through this tumultuous moment, we have the vision of a world where every human lives with dignity and compassion, where every human life is valued, where we have eradicated every form and system of bigotry, where every human soul can breathe free. We are not there yet. But we hold each other in our tears and with our hope, with our courage and our action. May we dream a new world into being, a world built on love.

Beth El Synagogue

With the historic guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin for the killing of George Floyd, we celebrate the arrival of justice long deferred. Still, we realize that one conviction will not restore wholeness to Mr. Floyd, his family or the community. It will not replace the countless losses rendered by the violence that stole his life. It is a beginning. With it comes the hope and the ongoing call for criminal justice reform and equity in food, housing, healthcare, employment, education, childcare and income-all things that promise a more just society.

Today, we stand with the Black community including Jews of color and other minority communities knowing that our task is not complete. We will not rest while inequity still exists. We must continue to learn and grow as individuals and as a community, to face shortcomings, to dismantle systemic racism, to fight for justice. And we invite you to join us in strengthening our anti-racism work at Beth El.

These ends are not reached alone. We pray for and position ourselves to work hard in building partnerships to guarantee the health and welfare of all individuals, all communities. We also pray and ready ourselves to fight for a Minnesota where justice is not deferred, but delivered, and where peace abounds throughout.

Osheh shalom bimromav, hu yaaseh shalom aleinu v’al kol yisrael.

Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis

Nearly a year ago, George Floyd died as a result of police violence. His last words uttered underneath the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, were “I can’t breathe.” Today, for Mr. Floyd, we are all taking a breath. A measure of justice was served, which will begin the process of ensuring equal justice to every member of our country. Racial injustice hurts all Americans because it keeps our country from achieving all that it can from simple human acts of kindness to much grander outcomes. But racial injustice has personally and deeply affected communities of color, and our systems must change. As Vice President Kamala Harris said, African-American men are fathers, husbands, brothers, sons, and neighbors. They are human beings. They, and all people, are promised every opportunity our country has to offer, and the time is long past due to make that reality. Our thoughts are with the Floyd family, and our gratitude to the jurors, the brave bystanders, and the clear vision of the witnesses who took the stand to provide a measure of justice.

Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis, and the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies believe in the imperative of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world one person at a time. Today, and every day forward, we commit our work to achieve a perfected world where every human’s worth is seen and valued. We will be active participants in the fight to end racism and achieve public safety and justice for everyone. George Floyd’s life mattered.

National Council of Jewish Women

Beth Gendler, Executive Director of NCJW Minnesota:

“Yesterday’s verdict was a welcome relief to our community but does nothing to stem the grief we feel as Black lives in this country continue to be taken by police violence. George Floyd’s murderer faced accountability because of the bravery of those who witnessed his final moments, including Darnella Frazier who risked her safety to testify and help bring justice for his family.

“Even so, yesterday was another reminder that there will be no justice until Black Lives Matter as police in Ohio shot and killed Ma’Khia Bryant, a teenage girl who had called on them for help. We grieve with all those in mourning and recommit to working toward a better future.”

Sheila Katz, CEO of The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW):

“George Floyd should be alive. We mourn as his family mourns, and support their efforts to find solace and accountability with this historic verdict.

“Jewish values have demanded, and continue to demand, that we fight for a world that honors the irrefutable preciousness of every human being, with just systems and structures to support that.

“NCJW has long been committed to the work of antiracism and, as ever, our work continues. The work of dismantling white supremacy is work that must happen every day. It must inform our priorities and coalitions, our relationships, and our personal choices.

“It is on each of us to do the work from our positions, roles, and perspectives, and for those of us with privilege in this conversation, to do so from a place of humility and solidarity.”

Anti-Defamation League

The jury’s decision to hold Derek Chauvin accountable for the murder of George Floyd is ​​​​a critically necessary first step in securing ​#JusticeforGeorgeFloyd.

And yet, no guilty verdict can change the fact that George Floyd — and Breonna Taylor, Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, and too many others — should be alive today. Our country’s policing and criminal ​legal systems ​have targeted and devalued Black, brown, and Indigenous lives for centuries. The issue is much bigger than one traffic stop, one no-knock raid, one police shooting, one department, or one city.  It is long past time for our country to tackle systemic racism, reimagine what public safety looks like, and create transformational change to ensure justice and fair treatment for all people. Black Lives Matter, and our society’s laws, practices, and institutions must reflect that.