MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A jury of 12 Minnesotans Tuesday found ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.
Officials in Minnesota are reacting to the verdict, calling it an important step towards justice, but also acknowledging the road that is still ahead.
“Today’s verdict is an important step forward for justice in Minnesota. The trial is over, but our work has only begun,” said Gov. Tim Walz. “No verdict can bring George back, and my heart is with his family as they continue to grieve his loss. Minnesota mourns with you, and we promise the pursuit of justice for George does not end today.”
— Governor Tim Walz (@GovTimWalz) April 20, 2021
Walz addressed the public on Tuesday evening. Minnesota, he said, is often lifted up as a model of well-being, but the disparities in education, health care, and home ownership make it clear that the model only applies to the white citizens of the state.
“True justice for George Floyd will come from real systemic change,” Walz said. He pledged his support for reforms – starting with policing and criminal justice – to prioritize equity for Black Minnesotans.
Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office prosecuted the case, spoke at the Hennepin County Government Center soon after the verdict was read aloud in court.
“I would not call today’s verdict justice,” Ellison said, “because justice implies true restoration. But it is accountability, which is the first step towards justice. And now the cause of justice is in your hands, and by ‘your hands,’ I mean the people of the United States.”
He thanked the witnesses who testified in the trial and urged the public to honor Floyd’s legacy, and continue the journey towards transformation and justice.
To Floyd’s family, he said that “a verdict alone cannot end their pain. I hope it’s another step on the long path towards healing.”
Minnesota’s two senators also addressed the conviction; Sen. Tina Smith called it a “moment of accountability, and also a moment to recommit ourselves to the movement for racial justice his tragic murder sparked.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar remarked that though the trial was about Floyd’s murder, “it also captured his life.” She recalled the moments when his brother Philonise Floyd “introduced us to a devoted son who struggled to tear himself away from his mother’s casket, a loving brother who always made sure his siblings had a snack for school, and a dedicated community member who ‘just knew how to make people feel better.'”
Klobuchar went on to say that the Senate should move forward and pass police reform to hold officers accountable for misconduct.
My statement on the conviction of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd: pic.twitter.com/rJHDDP8vMO
— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) April 20, 2021
Former President Barack Obama also commented on the verdict, saying that the “jury in Minneapolis did the right thing.”
Today, a jury did the right thing. But true justice requires much more. Michelle and I send our prayers to the Floyd family, and we stand with all those who are committed to guaranteeing every American the full measure of justice that George and so many others have been denied. pic.twitter.com/mihZQHqACV
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) April 20, 2021
“And as we continue the fight,” Obama continued, “we can draw strength from the millions of people – especially young people – who have marched and protested and spoken up over the last year, shining a light on inequity and calling for change. Justice is closer today not simply because of this verdict, but because of their work.”
Vice President Kamala Harris said the verdict “brings us a step closer, and the fact is, we still have work to do. We still must reform the system.”
Harris also pressed the Senate to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which she said would better hold law enforcement accountable for their actions.
President Joe Biden spoke after Harris, saying that the all-guilty verdict is “much too rare.”
“It was a murder in the full light of day,” he said “and it ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see the systemic racism . . . that is a stain on our nation’s soul.”
He went on to say that “the murder of George Floyd launched a summer of protest we hadn’t seen since the civil rights era of the ’60s. Protests that unified people of every race and generation, and peace and with purpose to say enough, enough, enough of the senseless killings.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar, who represents the district where Floyd was killed, said that the conviction was “not sufficient,” as for centuries, Black people in America have faced violence at the hands of the state. “For centuries, systemic inequalities in the form of housing, income, education, and criminal justice have plagued our country — holding us back from our creed of liberty and justice for all. Let this be a turning point, where we finally create a society that reflects the belief that all men and all women are created equal.”
George Floyd came to Minneapolis to better his life. But ultimately his life will have bettered our city. The jury joined in a shared conviction that has animated Minneapolis for the last 11 months. They refused to look away and affirmed he should still be here today.
— Mayor Jacob Frey (@MayorFrey) April 20, 2021
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said that Floyd “came to Minneapolis to better his life. But ultimately his life will have bettered our city. The jury joined in a shared conviction that has animated Minneapolis for the last 11 months. They refused to look away and affirmed he should still be here today.”
Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott, whose own city is dealing with the aftermath of the police killing of Daunte Wright, said the verdict “intensified a conversation that needed to happen for many years.”
“Just because there was a guilty verdict, that does not mean our work is done,” Elliott said. “Let us bind together, Black, white, Asian, Latino. No matter your background, let us bind together as people, as human beings, as Minnesotans, as Americans and as global citizens.”
On Tuesday evening, Minnesotans came together to celebrate the guilty conviction. For live coverage of various events throughout the city, tune in to CBSN Minnesota.
Chauvin will be sentenced in eight weeks.