Keller @ Large: Liz Walker Calls Derek Chauvin Verdict 'Huge Step In The Right Direction'

Political analyst Jon Keller talked to Liz Walker, former WBZ-TV anchor and current senior pastor at Roxbury Presbyterian Church about the guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial.

Video Transcript


JON KELLER: Well, good morning, everyone. It's been an eventful week, to say the least, with the murder conviction of a Minneapolis police officer sparking all sorts of discussion nationally and locally about where we go from here with regards to race relations, policing, and other issues. Here to add her wisdom to the discussion is the Reverend Liz Walker, a senior pastor at Roxbury Presbyterian Church. Reverend Walker, good morning and welcome.

LIZ WALKER: Good morning, my dear friend, John. It's good to be with you again.

JON KELLER: Thank you. So you and I were texting back and forth right after the Chauvin verdict came down. And you wrote, "justice finally." And then you added, "I stand corrected, accountability." What was the distinction you were drawing?

LIZ WALKER: I think we all are craving for justice in the criminal justice system in this country. But I think what happens is that we put all our eggs in one basket. And so this verdict then becomes the, this is the happy ending. We resolved the issue. And that is not at all the case.

This is a case of accountability. I believe the Minnesota Attorney General said that as well. It's not a case of justice. We still have work to do to correct injustices in this system and to make it more level on the playing field and to make it fair. So there's still work to do, but this is a good, huge step in the right direction.

JON KELLER: Well one of the most interesting and, I think, significant things about this trial, the Chauvin trial, and the verdict was the role police testimony on behalf of the prosecution played in the trial up to and including the chief of the Minneapolis Police. How did that resonate for you?

LIZ WALKER: That was very important, and it was good to hear finally. That hard blue shield is being cracked a bit. And people are beginning to look at their own, look inside, because that's where the issues lie. And so I thought that was very important.

But I also think that points out the complexity of this issue. It is an issue of criminal justice, and we do have to hold our police accountable, and we do have to make those hard decisions. And it's going to take all of us to do that.

But this issue extends beyond that. And I'll give you the case in point. The shooting right after the Chauvin verdict was in Ohio, I believe. There was another police shooting. And a young woman, a child, really, a teenager, was shot. And she was wielding a knife and trying to hurt people. And if you see that video, it's traumatizing and disturbing.

But that brings up the case that it's not all about-- that policeman had to make a decision in a split second. There were two other girls involved in that. And so what does he do? People say, de-escalate. How do you de-escalate in a second flash?

So there's more that has to be done. And I would suggest that, yes absolutely focus on criminal justice, but also focus on mental health. Also, it's not dualistic. It's not one or the other. It's both and. We have to look at all of our issues. And I work in the community focusing on mental health in the community because it's going to take all of us to really correct this wrong.

JON KELLER: You've been focusing on that issue, mental health issues and the role they play in a variety of social dysfunction and interactions. You've been doing that for many years. Are we making progress?

LIZ WALKER: Slowly. But we have to change the culture, Jon, because mental health is an issue we still don't want to talk about. We don't want to talk about vulnerability. We don't want to talk about when something's not quite right. We all want to be strong, and we all want to be right.

And I think that this may help us begin to look at that because you cannot look at that. You need to look at all these cases. And you need to look at this child in Ohio and see that there was something else going on in that case. So there's something else we have to look at. And I think that this is as important a time as any to look at mental health.