VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The death of George Floyd – a Black man from Minnesota – may not have happened here, but at least one academic says people in B.C. have a lot to learn after ex-officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all counts connected to Floyd’s death.
Related Article: Derek Chauvin found guilty on all charges in George Floyd’s murder
Dr. Adam Rudder is with Fairleigh Dickinson University, an American university with a campus in Vancouver. He says he’s somewhat relieved by Tuesday’s verdict, but it doesn’t mean that there isn’t still work that needs to be done.
“I think that this is an opportunity to begin to restore some faith or hope that the system can change, in some way. We’ve seen a series of really, sort of devastating verdicts in terms of bringing the white and the Black community together in the United States, and of course, the tone of the relationship in the United States has ripples that affect Canada as well,” he tells NEWS 1130.
"If we look to the U.S. as a lesson, where we could find ourselves as well, maybe we could find more motivation in doing the work. This is a wake up call." I'm speaking w/Dr. Adam Rudder this afternoon on @NEWS1130 as he reacts to the guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial.
— Ria Renouf (@riarenouf) April 20, 2021
While the verdict is some semblance of good news, Rudder is reminding us that a number of Black people have died and that this doesn’t bring Floyd back.
“One is torn on these things. History is filled with martyrs that draw people’s attention to injustice. It’s unfortunate that it had to come to this, and I suspect that there will be many more martyrs before we reach a place where we can say that we live in a society that is grounded in principles of equity and inclusion,” he says.
A number of people have pointed out that this likely wouldn’t have made it to the courts without video evidence, and that’s something Rudder agrees with.
“I think we really need to move away to our susceptibility to being compelled by individual cases. These issues go well beyond individual cases, although I do think it’s important to punish people like [Derek] Chauvin, who commit these acts of violence. At the same time, it’s important to see Chauvin as a part of a system; to understand that he’s not alone. He’s just one of the ones who got caught. I don’t see a near future in which we’re moving away from video because I think that in most cases, we have been raised to be blind to the injustices that are going on around us.”
Dr. Rudder is also hoping that important conversations around systemic racism continue to take place in Metro Vancouver, as Floyd’s death has sparked movements worldwide.
“We have become very used to walking past people who don’t have enough to eat on the street, and we don’t ask about how they got there. For the most part we ‘don’t care.’ I think, also that we’re not really encouraged to care, we don’t have news coverage that encourages us to delve deeper into some of these topics and to understand how these different dynamics came about. How these policing systems have allowed racism to run rampant within them; how we’ve come to such a place of power within the society.”
He says there are a lot that people in this province have plenty to take away from these events.
“We have incidences of violence that are racially biased, for sure, but I would argue very cautiously that not on the scale of the United States. And I think that if we look to the United States as a lesson to where we could quickly find ourselves as well.”