SELLERS: Justice Happens When This Never Happens Again

pen and notepad on desk

From the Desk of Robert Sellers

on the verdict of the Derek Chauvin trial

As our nation continues to grapple with civil unrest related to systemic racism, the death of George Floyd over a year ago and the subsequent trial of Derek Chauvin have been at the forefront of our national dialogue. Following many weeks of testimony and deliberation, today’s conviction in the murder of George Floyd is the first step towards justice and closure.

However, make no mistake, this verdict does not equate to justice. It does not equate to closure. Justice and closure only happen when what happened to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others never happens again. Until there is justice, then we all have a responsibility to act and create change. We must all work to eradicate all forms of structural racism and oppression.

This call to action is not only for us as a society or our university community, but for each of us as individuals. We must each ask ourselves, “what am I willing to do to dismantle structural racism in all of its forms wherever it resides?” Ironically, structural change starts with individuals working to dismantle it, at all of its multiple levels and manifestations.

The University of Michigan has instituted a number of initiatives designed to address racism in our community, including an ongoing university-wide task force to examine how we provide Public Safety at the University of Michigan. While these actions alone will not eliminate systemic racism and oppression in our society or our university community, they are important positive steps forward. Nevertheless, there is still so much more work to be done.

I have faith in our ability as a community to make that change. However, it will take all of us to do it, and it will not happen overnight. Nevertheless, it must happen.

Tonight, my feelings are not of joy or even relief. Instead, my thoughts are with George Floyd’s family and their loss. I also shed tears for the families of so many others whose murders have gone unacknowledged and unpunished, but through our relentless commitment for justice, they have not been forgotten.

4 Responses
  1. Elizabeth LaPorte

    Dr. Sellers, I appreciate your perspective, your wisdom, and leadership. Thank you for your service to our community.

  2. George jackson

    How about a George Floyd memorial scholarship in fighting with the police while on drugs? Breona Taylor, don’t have your boyfriend shoot first and hit a cop. The most recent young man in Minnesota don’t drive around with an active warrant for carrying a gun ad then fight the cops and try and drive off. While the results of all of these incidents are terrible the bottom line is don’t put yourself in that position in the first place. Be you Black White purple or green Fighting shooting at charging a policeman is going to end badly.

  3. Aura Rosser’s family has no closure, no justice, not even an apology from the city. She was shot by an Ann Arbor Police Department officer in 2014 and he was never even interviewed (only submitted a written statement), much less indicted and tried. There was no independent investigator, and the former Washtenaw County prosecutor’s office investigation was a joke. Instead it was an exercise in victim blaming that we’ve seen again and again, in this case by the prosecutor, the mayor, city council members, and the media. We have a George Floyd scholarship now, but no Aura Rain Rosser scholarship. Instead we have the officer who killed her promoted to sergeant and still raiding Black women’s homes ( We see the chief of police who presided over this travesty of justice transferring to a position at the University of Michigan and ready to get a double-dip pension upon retirement. It’s easier to talk about a police murder in another city than to confront the ugly, insular, white liberal politics right here in Ann Arbor and at the University of Michigan. That would require more courage. Read and learn:

Leave a Reply