Members of the Creighton community are finding ways to grieve and heal after recent incidents of police brutality and the trial of Derek Chauvin.
Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer, was found guilty of the murder of George Floyd. The trial ended on April 20 after three weeks of emotional testimony and gruesome footage.
Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Video evidence, which was a key part of the trial, showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds on May 25, 2020.
Floyd had been arrested after exiting a corner store, where he was suspected of trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill.
“The emotions over the last few weeks have been many feelings of anxiety, fear, anger and hopefulness,” said Sunny Washington, the president of the Creighton University African American Student Association. “The justice system has failed Black people time and time again, but each time, we still have hope.”
Two more Black people were killed at the hands of police close to the conclusion of the trial.
Ma’Khia Bryant, 16, was shot at four times by a police officer in Columbus, Ohio, on April 20. Bryant was transported to a hospital where she was later pronounced dead.
Andrew Brown Jr., 42, was fatally shot in his car in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, on April 21 while trying to drive away from officers.
“This has affected my life and the lives of every African American greatly,” Washington said in an email. “We now fear doing everyday tasks for the fear of being murdered. We now fear those that are supposed to protect us. Who do we call? What do we do?
“There is no reason a traffic stop, going on a run, playing in the park and sleeping in your own house should ever end in death,” Washington said. “A gun should always be the last resort.”
Individuals in the Creighton community gathered in front of St. John’s on Monday for a healing ceremony to help cope with the prevalence of police brutality and violence.
“There's been a bigger focus, at least from what I'm hearing, on how do we heal and cope, you know, for those who are particularly traumatized by the overall prevalence of these incidents,” said Sarah Walker, interim vice provost for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion.
Attendees lit candles to remember people who had lost their lives to police violence, Walker said.
There was a collection of photos and flowers.
People could also visit the wellness station, write letters to public officials and visit with others in attendance.
“I think it's kind of switching from this sort of notion of always having to do something as an immediate reaction, and really just wanting to learn how to deal and cope with trauma that happens in the greater community, that impacts the student experience,” Walker said.
Washington said CUASA’s mission is to educate about the Black community and to provide a safe space for Black students.
Students can also receive support from Student Counseling Services, Campus Ministry and the Creighton Intercultural Center, Walker said.