The Minnesota Vikings issued a statement encouraging dialogue and recommitment to its social justice efforts following the verdict of the Derek Chauvin trial on April 20.
Chauvin was convicted on all three counts filed against him in the death of George Floyd, a local man who died after being pinned under Chauvin’s knee for more than nine minutes last Memorial Day.
The Vikings’ social media accounts shared the following message:
The past year following George Floyd’s death has been extremely painful for the Minnesota community, particularly for the state’s Black residents. While today’s decision does not minimize the anguish or solve the intolerable issues of racism and hate, we hope it can mark the beginning of community healing.
Now, more than ever, it is crucial to respectfully listen, communicate and engaged in order for us to move toward an equitable society. We must address the unacceptable contnued violence and hate toward People of Color and commit to using our individual and collective voices to end the divisiveness and racial injustice.
Our work is just beginning. Our commitment is unwavering. As an organization, we will build upon the foundation we have already established in the following critical areas: reducing socioeconomic disparities, implementing educational curriculum on racism and Black history and advocating for law enforcement and criminal justice reform. We will continue to be agents for positive, trasnformational and sustainable change.
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Vikings Players & Fans React
Hundreds of fans commented on the Vikings’ social media messages, which were generally met with approval.
One fan did call out a similar reactionary message that followed when the team made a statement at the time of Floyd’s death last year.
Some fans were upset that politics have become enmeshed in the world of sports.
Vikings nose tackle Michael Pierce chimed in on the ruling by spreading a message encouraging the healing that could come following the verdict.
Legendary Vikings receiver Cris Carter tweeted a message of solidarity after the verdict of Chauvin’s trial was announced.
Jack Brewer, a 2002 undrafted rookie who was picked up by the Vikings, responded with a message of justice.
Former Vikings linebacker and WCCO radio broadcaster Ben Leber, who also called out the NFL’s silence on Deshaun Jackson’s antisemitic remarks last year, shared a message of healing.
Greg Coleman, who punted for the Vikings from 1978-1987, echoed many similar sentiments and said the work has just begun.
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Vikings Social Justice Efforts
Following the death of Floyd, the team immediately extended support to south Minneapolis with a food distribution drive. The Wilf family donated $5 million in social justice efforts which proved to be the bedrock for the team’s continual efforts.
The Vikings social justice committee was awarded $1 million of the initial donation to spend however they decide. The committee identified three impact areas — voter education and registration, education curriculum on racism and Black history and criminal justice reform — that they allocated to over a dozen community partners, per USA Today. Another $250,000 will be awarded to the committee this season to continue its efforts.
Former Vikings safety Anthony Harris and Anthony Barr, both members of the 2020 committee, had spoken last August with Minnesota high school coaches about the need to address issues of race and injustice.
The Vikings awarded the first George Floyd Legacy Scholarship last September after the team announced the endowment last June.
The past year has set precedent for the Vikings which have remained vocal to injustice, most recently the death of Duante Wright, to push for community healing.