CSU Pueblo educator discusses Derek Chauvin verdict in political science class

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The guilty verdict of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin on Wednesday sparked cries of relief for black Americans after they demanded accountability last year for the murder of George Floyd.

The case and the verdict have led to discussions in schools about policing and potential reforms to the criminal justice system.

Over the past few weeks, Ryan Strickler, assistant professor of political science at Colorado State University Pueblo, has had discussions with his students about the trial and the larger conversation around police reform.

“We have been following it closely. We are trying to relate it to broader issues within our political system,” Strickler said.

Some of the larger issues his class relates the trial to are injustices in the US criminal justice system and the state of law enforcement as an institution.

FOLLOWING: Activists and Pueblo residents celebrate Chauvin verdict, push for reform in local offices

He said some of his students were involved in last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests in Pueblo and Denver.

His students have different opinions about last year’s protests and the trial.

“A number of my students were appalled by what happened and became motivated to make changes,” he said. “You also had students who were concerned about the riots that broke out and what the police reforms would look like.”

The purpose of these classroom discussions is to generate meaningful dialogue among students, giving them the opportunity and ability to express their different opinions.

Strickler believes the guilty verdict for Chauvin was appropriate given what has been seen on camera and hopes he continues the conversation about police reform in America.

“I hope the problem doesn’t die out and everyone moves on to the next brilliant thing in politics,” he said.

He also teaches a course at the university on news media. He hopes in the future to learn from the media coverage of the verdict and the reaction to it.

“It’s a bigger conversation about whether the result is a little more nuanced and complicated than any of the (media) frames, or one of the easy angles or simple lines the media will present,” a- he declared.

Strickler believes that ultimately people can have honest disagreements and not think of themselves as “bad people.”

“If students are able to keep this in mind, we can have much more productive conversations,” he said.

FOLLOWING: CSU Pueblo will organize for the first time since 2018 an International Culinary and Cultural Extravaganza

Chieftain Education reporter Joe McQueen can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @jmcqueennews

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