Detroit Mercy President statement on Derek Chauvin verdicts

April 21, 2021

Dear Detroit Mercy Community,

The guilty verdicts in the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of Mr. George Floyd remind us that we live in a society where most individuals are judged impartially by their peers for the actions they commit. But many individuals do not receive that right because they are prejudged by the color of their skin or their economic status. We have witnessed too many of these unnecessary, violent and fatal incidents over the past year; and many of the victims have been Black and, more recently, Asian American.

Racial injustice and intolerance are as widespread in our nation and communities as they were in 1979 when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) opened their pastoral letter on racism, Brothers and Sisters to Us, with the following three sentences:

“Racism is an evil which endures in our society and in our church. Despite apparent advances and even significant changes in the last two decades, the reality of racism remains. In large part it is only the external appearances which have changed.”

Faithful to our Jesuit and Mercy mission, let us commit ourselves to continuing to work to eradicate systemic racism and to creating an inclusive community that recognizes the distinctive gifts of each person. As an institution of higher learning with our distinctive Catholic tradition, it is also our mission to educate for justice and solidarity.

At the same time, we realize that while this verdict may bring temporary calm and relief to some, “the persistent presence of racism,” as the U.S. Bishops stated more than four decades ago, will continue to weigh heavily on many members of our students, faculty, staff and their families. If you need assistance or wish to speak with someone, please take advantage of the many services the University offers. For more information, please visit University Ministry or our Wellness Center.

On Friday, April 23 at 12:30 p.m., the University Ministry office will hold a special virtual prayer service in St. Ignatius Chapel in the wake of the trial outcome and the work that must continue to correct the injustice of racism. This event will be livestreamed here. We hope you will be able to join in this special event.

With the conclusion of this historic trial and verdict, Detroit Mercy remains committed to being a supportive and caring environment where all members feel safe, appreciated and welcomed. 

Antoine M. Garibaldi