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UW-Eau Claire professor reacts to Chauvin guilty verdicts

Published: Apr. 20, 2021 at 9:27 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - George Floyd’s death sparked local protests against systemic racism and police violence last summer across western Wisconsin including in Eau Claire. UW-Eau Claire history professor Selika Ducksworth-Lawton has been a voice of critical conversation around race and social justice. She shared her thoughts on what Tuesday’s guilt verdicts mean moving forward.

“They’ve seen Philando Castile and no justice, they’ve seen Travon Martin and no justice. They need to see justice.”

Tuesday’s guilty verdicts of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin will be used as a teaching moment for UW-Eau Claire professor Selika Ducksworth-Lawton. She believes Chauvin needed to be held accountable for his actions, adding she is not in favor of defunding police but instead reforming it.

“It felt like there was accountability. And I think that my students needed to see the accountability. I know a lot of police officers that have been sending me texts saying ‘okay, thank God!’ because they didn’t want to be associated with this man,” says Ducksworth-Lawton.

She believes Chauvin’s actions in George Floyd’s death were an abuse of power.

“They needed to see the police chief up there saying no this isn’t a tactic that we allow. We needed to see that trainer up there saying no this isn’t what a professional police officer does. And to talk about the difference between someone who abuses power and someone who is professional. I think that gave people more faith that we’ll see more accountability in the future.”

While many people will believe the jury’s verdict is justice for George Floyd, the UWEC professor knows her students will feel a wide range of emotions.

“Today we will sigh with relief and tomorrow we’ll put ourselves aside and we’ll be there for them. We survived 65 through 72. We survived it, but we didn’t need this and this is a step toward healing these divides that we have.”

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