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Chauvin trial: Society has a role to play in determining ‘lawful but awful’ policing

The jury resumed deliberations today in the Derek Chauvin trial. Chauvin has pleaded not guilty to second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Northwestern Pritzker School of Law professors Sheila Bedi and Robin Walker Sterling are available for comment.

Sheila Bedi is a clinical professor of law at Northwestern Law and director of the Community Justice and Civil Rights Clinic, a law school clinic that provides students with opportunities to work within social justice movements on legal and policy strategies aimed at redressing over-policing and mass imprisonment. Bedi litigates civil rights claims on behalf of people who have endured police violence and abusive prison conditions. She can be reached at sheila.bedi@law.northwestern.edu or by contacting Hilary Hurd Anyaso.

Quote from Professor Bedi
“The jury will consider the facts of George Floyd’s death and whether under the law, Officer Chauvin acted ‘reasonably.’ We now must examine whether — in the face of all we know about racist police violence — it remains reasonable to invest in policing and other carceral solutions to public safety at the expenses of the investments that will strengthen our Black and Brown communities. Honoring George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Adam Toledo and other victims of police violence requires reckoning with the ways our investments in policing perpetuates racialized violence and destabilizes our communities.”

Robin Walker Sterling is associate dean for clinical education; director of the Law School’s Bluhm Legal Clinic and the Mayer Brown/Robert A. Helman Professor of Law at the Northwestern Law. She is an expert in clinical advocacy, critical race theory, criminal law and procedure and juvenile justice. 
She can be reached at rwalkersterling@law.northwestern.edu or by contacting Hilary Hurd Anyaso.

Quote from Professor Sterling
“This year marks the 20th anniversary of the police assault of Rodney King, one of the first widely shared video recordings of police violence. Like the video in that case, the video in this case is seared on the collective consciousness of a generation of Americans.  

“While the jury — and the country — heard the evidence in Derek Chauvin's trial, police killings of Black Americans continued, even in Minneapolis, where an officer shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop. The verdict the jury will deliver in this case is limited to Officer Chauvin's guilt or innocence. But the rest of us have a role to play, as well, in determining whether or not this is the kind of ‘lawful but awful’ policing we will continue to tolerate from those who are tasked with protecting and serving our communities, or whether we all can do and deserve better.”