Home>Feature>Statements on guilty verdict in trial of Derek Chauvin

George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25. 2020 after being pinned to the ground by a police officer who presser a knee into his neck. (Photo: Courtesy of the law offices of Ben Crump)

Statements on guilty verdict in trial of Derek Chauvin

Jury finds former Minneapolis Police officer guilty of murder, manslaughter

By Nikita Biryukov, April 20 2021 5:15 pm

New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association President Pat Colligan

“Today’s decision ends a very difficult time in our nation’s history. I said at the time last year that the actions in Minnesota were contrary to our training in New Jersey and does not represent who we are. This event ran counter to the deeds put forward by so many good men and women in law enforcement every single day. There are thousands and thousands of daily interactions in this country that we will never hear about. As always, we will continue to work through the challenges facing law enforcement today and continue to improve the service to our communities.”

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez

“This case has always been clear: Derek Chauvin put his knee on George Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds with no regard for his life. Had he not, George Floyd would still be alive. Grateful that the jury gave George’s family the justice they deserve.”

U.S. Senator Cory Booker

“Today I am thinking about George Floyd’s family, his daughter, and his loved ones. My heart is with them as they continue to mourn.  This verdict is a reflection of how our legal system is supposed to work: an individual guilty of a horrific crime is being held accountable for his actions. But this verdict did not and will not fix what is so deeply broken in that system. Accountability for the officer who murdered George Floyd is important and it is necessary. But it is far from enough. We must also hold the system that allowed it to happen accountable. What are we going to do as a country to prevent this from happening again and again and again and again? We must change this system that is killing us. We must change the complacency that allows it to persist. We must change our laws.  Today’s verdict is justice served, but it is not justice for George Floyd.  True justice would be a country where George Floyd is alive today, where Daunte Wright is alive today, where Adam Toledo is alive today. Where countless others whose names history will never know are alive today.”

Governor Phil Murphy

George Floyd, like countless other Black Americans whose futures have been unjustly stolen from them, should be alive today. While today’s verdict provides some measure of justice and accountability for the Floyd family and millions of our fellow Americans, all of us must remember that systemic racism is still pervasive in American life. While we are glad that justice has prevailed in this case, George Floyd’s murder is a painful reminder that inequality has deep roots in American history, starting during slavery and continuing to the present day in areas such as wages, health care, housing, education, and treatment by law enforcement. This has been a trying moment in our nation’s history, but we must be resolute in our fight for justice to ensure that the pain of yesterday, and the pain of today, does not become the pain of tomorrow.

Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo

“Justice has been served in Derek Chauvin’s trial for the murder of George Floyd. The three guilty verdicts cannot undo the injustice that was done a year ago, but it represents a positive change in our criminal justice system. It is time for our country to continue to heal, learn to respect and understand our differences, and grow stronger from them.”

State Senator Joseph Cryan, Assemblywoman Annette Quijano and Rev. Reginald Atkins

“The tragic murder of George Floyd is a stain on our nation’s history and the 9 minutes and 29 seconds captured on video last May will serve as a constant reminder of not only an indisputable failing but also of a call for justice from communities everywhere.  Today’s guilty verdict is an important one for the Floyd family and for so many across the country, as well as right here at home in Union County.  Nothing can ever erase the tragedy that occurred in Minneapolis, but today is an important step forward for justice.”

Rep. Bill Pascrell

“Right and wonderful justice has been served.  George Floyd was murdered. The evidence was overwhelming. The jury saw that and delivered swift accountability. This trial result is one stich towards helping heal the wounds that were tragically opened by Mr. Floyd’s death. But complete healing demands that we as a nation confront the broken trust between our communities and the systemic injustice in our justice system. George Floyd should be alive today. I pray for Mr. Floyd, his family, their friends, and America. I hope that Mr. Floyd’s tragic end will help move America closer to these goals. It’s up to us.”

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal

“This was the right verdict. But as a career prosecutor, I know how even a successful trial verdict can leave the families of victims with a sense of emptiness. A conviction cannot undo the trauma; it can never bring back a lost loved one. We simply hope it can bring some closure to those most in pain.  A flawed system laid the groundwork for the death of George Floyd. It’s a system that too often fails to recruit police from the communities they guard, fails to train officers properly, fails to place just limits on the use of force against citizens, and fails to create mechanisms for the independent investigation of misconduct. It’s a system that badly needs reform—here and across the country.  While I am heartened to see some justice done for Mr. Floyd, it is not enough. We must seize this moment, when the nation’s focus has turned to how our communities are policed, to ensure something meaningful comes from a man’s unnecessary death, and to continue with urgency the reforms we have begun to policing practices in New Jersey. ”

Assemblyman Jamel Holley

“George Floyd changed the fabric of this country and this state. This case has forced the conversation – once again – to the fact that Black people still live with injustice and fear. It is my hope and my prayers and my belief that this case will finally make a difference, the first key step in ending generations of systemic racism.”

Rep. Andy Kim

“George Floyd was murdered. We knew that the moment we watched the video of his death. Today’s verdict affirms this truth and gives our nation a chance for justice. While no verdict could erase the trauma of losing a loved one, I hope that this provides some sense of closure to George Floyd’s family. I hope it provides hope for the families of Black men and women who have lost their lives to a broken system; a system that has failed both communities of color and the brave men and women of law enforcement. We should use this moment as a nation to come together and recognize the work to be done. We should not have to rely on just a jury to seek justice for a Black American wrongly killed. We should take steps as policy makers at all levels of government to fix our systems so that this never happens again. The power to change is in our hands. We can do better for communities of color to make them safe in their own neighborhoods. For law enforcement to give them the training and support needed to better protect the places they serve. And for a new generation of Americans who are looking to us to fix the injustices of the past and chart a new way forward.”

Middlesex County Democratic Chairman Kevin McCabe

“All lives don’t matter until Black Lives Matter. While today’s verdict cannot possibly take away the pain for the Floyd family, it is a reminder, as Dr. King said, that the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.”

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop

“Today justice was served by the jury in the Derek Chauvin trial returning a verdict of guilty on all three counts. The sadness and loss that George Floyd’s family and friends feel will unfortunately never totally go away. That sadness is shared throughout our country and here in Jersey City. This verdict also serves as proof that there is still justice and accountability in our country, and I am hopeful that it can be a starting point for bringing more meaningful reforms nationally and locally so that we will no longer be hearing name after name of black lives that were taken too soon by law enforcement that swore to protect them.”

Democratic State Chairman John Currie

“George Floyd will never go home to his family but today’s guilty verdict offers a measure of relief to his family and the millions of people so deeply affected by his death. The movement for justice that was sparked in the wake of George Floyd’s murder continues, as does our Democratic Party’s commitment to fairness and equality. We must use this moment as a time to encourage more accountability, respect and dialogue between the police and the communities they serve. If we can accomplish that, perhaps George Floyd will not have died in vain and his death can be the start of a more just society.”

New Jersey Institute for Social Justice President Ryan Haygood

“America let out a breath today because legal justice was served.  Even in this case, where we saw with our own eyes a police officer crush the life out of George Floyd, history did not forecast this verdict with any certainty. Yet even as we acknowledge legal justice in this one case, we must remember that real justice would mean that George Floyd was still alive. True justice would mean that Mr. Floyd would have the opportunity to see his children and grandchildren grow up. And so much more. But he won’t. Mr. Floyd was killed by Chauvin and a broader system of racist policing in America. A system that killed another Black man, Daunte Wright, just miles away from the courthouse where Chauvin was tried.  A system that, before Daunte, also took the lives of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Rayshard Brooks, Breonna Taylor, Atatiana Jefferson, Elijah McClain, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott and so many more. This is not a system challenged by a few bad apples. We are talking about an orchard of trees that are poisoned at the root – supported by a culture that too often produces poisoned, deadly fruit. This broken policing system is part of a broader American system that is sick with racism. An American system that is built upon a foundation that is cracked by structural racism, cracks that erupt into earthquakes in Black communities every day in the persistent violence by police on Black bodies; the persistent disparities in wealth, health care, education, justice and democracy; and the persistent refusal to meaningfully fund reparative systems and structures that will make these communities whole.  All of these things are true right here in New Jersey, where Black people face some of the worst racial disparities in America. So even as we take in today’s verdict, it is past time to build a new system.  A new system that prioritizes accountability for law enforcement officials. A new system that looks beyond policing to what community investments Black people need to really be safe.  A new system that protects and empowers Black lives in all areas of life. We are working together to build that new system right here in New Jersey.”

Camden County Commissioner Louis Cappelli

“After a year of trauma, pain, and unrest, justice has finally been served in the murder of George Floyd. Today, a jury of his peers found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts – guilty for his actions which shocked and angered people across the world when they were captured on video last June.  It is important to acknowledge that the verdict rendered in this trial does not alleviate the pain caused to George Floyd’s family, friends, or community, nor does it bring him back to this Earth to be with them again. Still, the administration of justice is a vitally important component of American life and civil society, one which for far too long has favored some and systematically disadvantaged others. This verdict created sunshine where there was none and was a transparent display that no one is above the law.  That said, we share the nation’s feeling of gratification that Derek Chauvin will be held accountable for the murder of George Floyd. For nine minutes he knelt on the neck of unarmed Black man, an act which we watched in horror as it was posted online and repeatedly played on television. The trauma caused to the African American community by that video, by Derek Chauvin’s actions, can never be fully healed. Still, perhaps his being held to account will help to bring closure to this horrific event After George Floyd’s murder last year, we felt the all too familiar pain that comes from watching another in a seemingly unending line of tragedies, tragedies that continue to occur while little is done to address them. In Camden County, we have worked to build a police department, and a culture within the agency, anchored in the sanctity of human life – no one person’s wellbeing or life is more important than another and all life is important. We train officers to ensure that the use of force is always a last resort and if force is used it will immediately be reviewed by a supervisor during the officer’s shift. Furthermore, we have officers that travel around the nation teaching de-escalation tactics to other departments and we know that time and space is imperative to resolving issues peacefully. In addition, in 2019, we codified the duty to intervene in our use of force policy, meaning if an officer is not following protocols and procedures their colleagues need to step in to stop it or accept culpability for the other officer’s actions. These progressive policies ensure we will never put someone’s life in danger the way Chauvin did. In short, our officers are guardians and not warriors. It is our hope that today’s verdict finally begins the process of holding individuals accountable and brings us closer to the reforms necessary to make policing in America work for all Americans. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the Floyd family, the Minneapolis community, and Americans across the country who have been forced to relive this tragic piece of history over the course of this trial.”

Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr.

“Today’s verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin is a reminder that no one – not even law enforcement – is above the law. While a guilty verdict cannot bring George Floyd back to his family and friends, I hope they find some solace knowing that our justice system held Derek Chauvin accountable for his despicable crime. As a country, we can and must use this moment as an opportunity to act. We must make sure that the systemic racism in our criminal justice system becomes a relic of the past.   George Floyd’s murder shows a broken system in this country that needs repair, and we need to do everything in our power to make these changes happen. In Congress, I’ll continue to support legislation at the federal level to end police brutality, stop profiling, and hold police accountable for their actions. We must continue to stand up for justice for all and find resolve in fighting for a more just society for every American.”

Democratic Congressional Candidate Tim Alexander

“While the fight for justice is nowhere near over, today is a victory for accountability. I want to congratulate the prosecutors and the Minneapolis Police Department for their courage and conviction in prosecuting a former officer for his disgusting act. As a former law enforcement officer, I know there is nothing more harmful than these kinds of atrocities.  As I watched Derek Chauvin’s knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck, I couldn’t help but reflect on the police brutality incident I survived as an 18-year-old Black American. I was shot at, beaten, and lucky to be alive today. But not everybody is so lucky. We’ve seen this too many times before — with Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, and Eric Garner to name a few. Black and Brown communities should not have to live in fear. Whether it’s going to the grocery store, taking our kids to school, or walking home from work, no one should have to constantly look over their shoulders because of police officers like Derek Chauvin. Today was a small step in the right direction, but now more than ever, we must come together to fight like hell for meaningful reforms at every level of government.I’ve dedicated my life to righting the wrongs of our criminal justice system, and it’s clear that the fight is far from over. If we want to stop this sad reality that our communities face every day, we need to come together. This is our fight, and together, we can bring about real change in our criminal justice system and build trust between law enforcement and the communities they are sworn to serve.”

Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Jack Ciattarelli

“This monumental case, which gripped the world, will live forever in the memories of all who came to know George Floyd and his story.  George Floyd’s unnecessary and tragic death ignited raw emotions, but also revealed hard and ugly truths, compelling us all to examine and address deep-rooted injustices that undeniably exist.  Though I am grateful the judicial system worked, there is still room for deep introspection, thoughtfulness, and empathy for one another. For the sake of our country, there is also no better time for decisive action. We must move forward, together.”
Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin

“The tragic murder of George Floyd reminds us that racism and the heinous misuse of force are unacceptable in a just society. Today’s verdict takes a step towards justice and sends a clear message that such acts cannot be tolerated. Once again we mourn George Floyd and the pain that was inflicted on his family. We must recommit ourselves to be better.”

Union City Mayor/State Senator Brian Stack

“The tragic death of George Floyd is a painful reminder of the failings of our society and the demands for us to do better.  I join the many Americans across the country who believe that today justice is served.  Although this verdict is a step in the right direction; we still have far to go.  The actions of a few have damaged the reputation of professional and compassionate law enforcement officials throughout our nation, but this should serve as an opportunity to bring forth meaningful reforms and resources for change.  The system failed George Floyd and we must do all that we can, on all levels of government, to ensure that this does not happen again.  If we are going create change for the betterment of our nation, we must do so together.”

State Senator Vin Gopal

“Tonight, we release a collective sigh of relief. Justice has been served in the trial of Derrick Chauvin who murdered George Floyd last May. This guilty verdict provides some accountability to the family of George Floyd and many other Black Americans who are victims of the systemic racism and oppression that they face day in and day out. This verdict, however, is just one step in a series of improvements needed in our society. It’s more than educating and talking about diversity. It’s more than reactive legislation. Collectively, we need to continue these conversations. We need to push for proactive laws to begin to undo hundreds of years of oppression. We need to be open and understanding to one another in both race and culture. We need to love one another.”

Essex County Commissioner Brendan Gill

“The callous and unnecessary murder of George Floyd will never be forgotten, and will serve as a moment in history in which a rekindled call for social justice reverberated across our nation, and the world. The outrage that is still being felt by so many of us has not gone away, but it has been tempered by our criminal justice system’s demonstration of accountability. It is my hope that today’s verdict can bring a sense of closure to the family and friends of George Floyd, while serving as a turning point that drives our society to insist that all people are treated with dignity and respect. As a nation that believes in justice, we must continue to demand that our government institutions exhaust all measures to move past the legacy of unfair treatment towards people of color. Today’s verdict was a crucial step for our criminal justice system, and our nation, on the path towards living up to our ideals of liberty and justice for all.”

Rep. Mikie Sherrill

“While no trial can bring George Floyd back to his family and loved ones, today’s verdict offered accountability and a step towards justice for his murder. This means that one small hurdle has been cleared in our broader pursuit of systemic change and the effort to restore trust between police and the communities they serve. There was no ambiguity in this case. Derek Chauvin’s own law enforcement colleagues and superiors testified against him. Today, we move one step closer to fulfilling the pledge we make as a country to provide liberty and justice for all.”

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