The American Psychological Association Reacts to Derek Chauvin Verdict

The American Psychological Association Reacts to Derek Chauvin Verdict

Black people experience collective and vicarious trauma that escalates with every murder of an unarmed Black person at the hands of police.

WASHINGTON – Following is a statement by Jennifer F. Kelly, PhD, president of the American Psychological Association, regarding the jury’s finding that Derek Chauvin is guilty of murdering George Floyd:

“The American Psychological Association believes the jury reached the correct decision. It is right that Derek Chauvin is being held accountable, as should every person and system in the nation that supports or reinforces racism. Justice will never be achieved until we dismantle unjust systems.

“While many people feel relief at this verdict, it is telling that we live in a nation where a verdict like this would ever be in question. This case’s conclusion does not eliminate the deeply rooted inequities that exist in our country and the racism and unconscious bias that permeate our structures and systems.

“Black people experience collective and vicarious trauma that escalates with every murder of an unarmed Black person at the hands of police. These unconscionable acts take away an important sense of safety and normalcy and have long-lasting effects on mental and physical health. Injustice affects everyone. That is why we need to address systemic and structural factors, such as policies in law enforcement and criminal justice.

“We must stand against all forms of hatred and violence. We must recognize that seeking justice does not always lead to the system changes that people of color need to feel protected and safe. We must acknowledge and lift up the voices of those who are hurting and living with deep emotional wounds.

“As psychologists, we understand anger is a reasonable reaction to an unreasonable situation. We also understand that anger distresses and numbs us. We take hope that many will channel their anguish and use that energy to work for long-term change.

“This guilty verdict will not bring back George Floyd, or erase the systemic and interpersonal racism that contributed to his death, or change the fact that we as a nation have much work to do.

“But it leaves us with hope that this can be a turning point.”