Teachers unions target systemic racism in wake of Chauvin verdict

'The urgent matter before us is to dismantle the systemic racism that plagues us'
By: | April 21, 2021

Derek Chauvin’s murder conviction for killing George Floyd should drive efforts to dismantle systemic racism and reform policing, teachers union leaders said.

“Most of us—regardless of our race, gender identity or ZIP code—want to live without fearing for our lives or those of our loved ones,” NEA President Becky Pringle said in a statement shortly after the verdict was announced.

“As the one-year mark of George Floyd’s murder approaches, we must continue to come together to demand accountability and justice for all and to demand that our elected leaders—especially those who have taken an oath to serve and protect us—respect our rights, no matter our race, background or where we live,” Pringle said.

She hoped the verdict would add momentum to Congressional efforts to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would increase accountability for law enforcement misconduct.

“While the jury reached the right decision and did in fact convict former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin of George Floyd’s murder, we are again joining together to make sure all of us feel safe in our schools, neighborhoods and communities,” Pringle said.  “We are stronger and safer when we come together to face shared challenges and develop collective solutions.”

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on Tuesday called the verdict “an important inflection point for police accountability.”

The “verdict isn’t a panacea—justice can’t be fully served until we have equal opportunity and justice in America for everyone—but today is a huge moment,” Weingarten said.

“The urgent matter before us is to dismantle the systemic racism that plagues us—to make the fight for anti-racism and equity a cornerstone of everything we do,” Weingarten said. “To do this, we must continue to fight to address all the dimensions of inequality, including fighting for investments in communities of color—in education, community supports, healthcare and neighborhood-based public safety.”

The verdict brought to mind the deaths of other people of color at the hands of police, NEA Secretary-Treasurer Fedrick Ingram added.

“As a union, we will continue to show up for this community, for our members across the country and for our students—not just for single convictions of police brutality but for an entire reckoning of racial justice and equity in this country, happening in our classrooms, our communities and beyond,” Ingram said. “This decision is our ground floor—not our ceiling.”