A Statement on Accountabililty

Yesterday, on Tuesday, April 20th, a Minneapolis jury found Derek Chauvin guilty of murdering George Floyd. During Chauvin’s trial, 20-year-old Daunte Wright was killed by Brooklyn Center, MN police officers in a traffic stop--about 10 miles from where Derek Chauvin was on trial. And on the same afternoon as Chauvin’s guilty verdict, 15-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant was killed by police officers responding to her call for assistance during an altercation.

Chauvin’s conviction represents accountability for the crime he committed, but it falls short of justice. Justice would be George Floyd’s presence and not his death. Justice would mean that young people, like Daunte and Ma’Khia, wouldn’t be killed when they encounter police. Instead, they would have access to the support all youth need to succeed, including quality education, life skills and job training, mentorship and mental health assistance. Justice would also mean young people like Danielle Frazier, the brave 17-year-old whose recording helped secure the conviction, would not have to experience the weight and trauma of bearing witness to murder.

Any of these young people could have been an Avenues for Justice (AFJ) participant. We’ve witnessed the impact of our participants seeing their peers killed by law enforcement; some cannot help but think it could happen to them. That’s why our staff remain committed to providing our participants with support and care that they need in triggering moments of crisis. We strongly believe in a justice system that focuses on possibilities and not punishment and that every young person deserves a chance to learn and grow. We will continue to advocate for more opportunities, more support, and more compassion for youth and young adults.

We know how exhausting this cycle can be for our communities. And we know justice cannot be served with just one conviction. That’s why we remain committed and focused on the work that needs to be done, and we remain hopeful for a future where youth and young adults, like our participants, have all they need to live and thrive.

Sincerely, 

Angel Rodriguez, Executive Director & the AFJ Team

 

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