Gwainevere Catchings Hess

WASHINGTON, DC — Gwainevere Catchings Hess, President, The Black Women’s Agenda, Inc. (BWA), released the following statement in response to the jury’s verdict in the State of Minnesota v. Derek Michael Chauvin case:

The Black Women’s Agenda, Inc. hails the jury’s verdict convicting Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on all counts for the May 25, 2020 murder of George Floyd. As an organization founded to secure, advance, and protect the interests of Black women and their families, BWA is heartened by the jury’s findings. Nevertheless, they have unleashed a torrent of emotions.

BWA is relieved that George Floyd’s life mattered to the jury. They recognized that each time we watched life senselessly seep out of his body on video, our nation found it difficult to breathe. That consolation is fleeting, however, since from the start of the Chauvin trial three weeks ago, we now grieve for the families of more than 65 other individuals who lost their lives through the actions of law enforcement. They were men, women, children, and more than half of them were people of colori. Police have a difficult job, but it should not give them free rein to kill civilians. “Serve and protect” should not mean harass, dehumanize, or deprive individuals of their right to live.

As Americans, we have witnessed time and again what can happen when we unite in pursuit of what is fair and just. Derek Chauvin’s murder conviction is the first step on our journey to equal justice. We must petition the United States Senate to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020, which holds police officers accountable for misconduct, and reforms police training and policies. We must insist, in unison, that trials be held in courtrooms and not on street corners where law enforcement can serve as judge, jury, and executioner. Finally, we must heed the warning Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. issued nearly 60 years ago from a Birmingham jail: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Founded in 1977 in Washington, DC, The Black Women’s Agenda, Inc. is a nonprofit 501(C)3 organization that generates awareness and support for issues that secure, protect and advance the rights of Black women and their families. BWA is comprised of 24 collaborating organizations — sororities, civic, service and faith-based — representing millions of women worldwide.