Speaking Wednesday on Boston Public Radio, national security expert and Harvard professor Juliette Kayyem defended Gov. Charlie Baker’s decision to activate Massachusetts National Guard troops across the state ahead of Tuesday’s verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
Chauvin was convincted on all three counts of murder and manslaughter for his role in killing George Floyd last May. Protests remained peaceful throughout the country, including in Massachusetts.
“It is true that you have to position to be prepared for the worst-case scenario,” Kayyem said, adding that “there are always elements that want to seek violence within nonviolent movements.”
“That’s not political of me to say," she said. "We know that from the history of nonviolent movements that you did have to pre-position."
Kayyem also highlighted a need for police reform on three levels — the scope of power within police unions, the role of local sheriffs and the widespread proliferance of police departments.
“We have too many police departments,” she said, referring specifically to Massachusetts. "You can’t control training.”
Kayyem said that Tuesdays verdict signaled an important step towards reforming the nation’s racist justice system.
Americans “needed to see Chauvin in handcuffs, walking out,” she said. “The opposite would’ve been horrifying, on lots of levels. But horrifying for [the prospect of] any reform in the police department.”
Juliette Kayyem is an analyst for CNN, a former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security and the faculty chair of the homeland security program at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.