A copy of George Floyd’s toxicology report was tacked onto a Duke University bulletin-board display honoring his life, scrawled with derogatory notes that echo Derek Chauvin’s defense attorneys in the ongoing criminal trial.
The bulletin board, erected in a Duke dorm last month for Black History Month, commemorates Black Americans killed in encounters with police. The faces of Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, and countless others are all featured prominently next to descriptions of their final moments.
But someone took issue with Floyd’s inclusion on the display.
“Mix of drugs presents in difficulty breathing!” the note scribbled on Floyd’s report read. “Overdose? Good man? Use of fake currency is a felony!
The note was discovered by student Matt Mohn, according to the Chronicle, who said he noticed it as he was leaving the dorm and couldn’t believe what he was seeing. The dorm is home to predominantly Black and Latino students studying health-related careers.
“The thing that stuck out to me the most was the whole ‘Good man’ thing,” Mohn told the paper. “It wasn’t mirroring what was put up on the board; it wasn’t a play on words. It was literally just the author voicing their own opinion that he wasn’t a good man because he had a counterfeit 20-dollar bill.”
The note was taken down by officials shortly after Mohn reported it in the dorm’s residential group chat, according to the campus paper the Duke Chronicle. The Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards is now investigating.
George Floyd died in Minneapolis police custody last May after they were called to respond to the use of a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store downtown. Former officer Derek Chauvin, whose trial is ongoing, placed his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes without relenting, despite Floyd’s repeated pleas for help. Chauvin’s defense team plans to argue that Floyd died as a result of ingesting drugs prior to his arrest and not from the force applied to him.
Subsequent toxicology reports from the city’s medical examiner determined that Floyd did have the drug fentanyl in his body before he died, and he had several health conditions. Though the examiner stressed in his report that the drug wasn’t the cause of death, that theory has persisted for months after the release of the autopsy results.
An email sent to Duke students asked anyone with information to come forward.
“If Duke students are found to be responsible for this act, the Office of Conduct and Community Standards will issue sanctions to the responsible student,” said the email from school officials, sent out Tuesday. “If the investigation does not identify a responsible student, we will inform the community of that outcome on or before April 15 as part of our monthly conduct update.”
The email also said faculty would work closely with campus departments to provide outreach to Black students affected by the incident.
Duke University has had its share of controversies involving race. The North Carolina school had been a white-only institution until 1961. For decades, the school had buried the legacy of Julian Abele, the Black architect responsible for designing a significant portion of the school’s buildings and layout in the early 20th century but was never allowed to step foot on the campus before his death in 1950. It wasn’t until the student body protested against South African apartheid in 1986 that the school began to recognize his contributions to the school.
In 2014, now-retired University Vice President Tallman Trask III hit a Black worker with his car and called her a “stupid” N-word as he drove off without helping her, according to the student paper. In 2016, a group of students shut down a campus building and successfully advocated for Trask’s apology and higher wages for the school’s workforce.
Opening arguments in Chavin’s murder trial start Monday in Minneapolis.