Residents And Local, State Officials React To Guilty Verdict In Derek Chauvin Murder Trial
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on Tuesday was found guilty on all three charges he faced in the death of George Floyd: unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
It was one of the most closely watched trials in recent history. Since Floyd's death in May 2020, communities across the nation have called for a reckoning on police violence and systemic racism.
Officials around Ohio and Kentucky reacted immediately.
Councilmember Greg Landsman was one of the first. "Justice for #GeorgeFloyd. Holding George Floyd's family in my heart and prayers," he wrote on Twitter.
Councilmember Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney said "we are content with the guilty verdict."
"Historically, justice has not been delivered in cases all too similar to this one, and we believe this is a step in the right direction," she wrote.
We are content with the guilty verdict in the case involving George Floyd’s murder by Derek Chauvin. Historically, justice has not been delivered in cases all too similar to this one, and we believe this is a step in the right direction.— Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney (@KearneyForCincy) April 20, 2021
Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac asked residents to "please express their emotions in a respectful and peaceful manner."
"I have said multiple times before that I denounce the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May of 2020 by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin," he began his statement. "I understood the angst that came the days, weeks, and months following the death of Mr. Floyd. As both a Black man and a police officer, I too was angry."
Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones issued a statement calling "for peace."
"This case has had an emotional impact on not just the Minneapolis community but every community in this country," he wrote. "We need to build our nation up by conversation and understanding, not tear it down with more hate, hostility and violence."
Hamilton County Sheriff Charmaine McGuffey said in a statement "due diligence was given and justice was served."
"We have a long way to go to rebuild trust in the community and bridge gaps between law enforcement and people who have suffered the inequities of actions that lead to unfair treatment," she wrote. "This verdict is a necessary step in the healing process that our nation must endure."
Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley echoed the sentiment. "While nothing can bring back the life of George Floyd, today justice was served," he said in a statement. "Our nation has much work to do to improve policing, become aware of the bias we all carry and simply be better. Today we moved an inch but we have miles and miles to go in the march toward justice. The life of George Floyd mattered. Black Lives Matter."
"The world was watching," Councilmember Christopher Smitherman tweeted. "We must embrace humanity for all Americans and see each other as brothers and sisters under one flag."
The world was watching. Our judicial system has spoken. Guilty on all charges for the murder of an unarmed African American man. We must embrace humanity for all Americans and see each other as brothers and sisters under one flag. #GeorgeFloyd— Christopher Smitherman (@voteSmitherman) April 20, 2021
Ohio State Senator and Cincinnati mayoral candidate Cecil Thomas tweeted that the verdict "is justice, but that does not satisfy the pain and sorrow (George Floyd's) family and we as a nation have felt."
This guilty ruling does not return George Floyd to his family. It is justice, but that does not satisfy the pain & sorrow his family & we as a nation have felt.— Senator Cecil Thomas (@CecilThomasOH) April 20, 2021
As we move forward from this national trauma, I pray we all heal & I pray especially for Mr. George Floyd's family. https://t.co/ZOoCHCOIcZ
Justice Served— David Mann (@mannforcincy) April 20, 2021
Ohio's junior Senator Rob Portman said Floyd's death was "tragic and should never happen to anyone in America."
"I am grateful today that justice appears to be served as we awaiting sentencing," he wrote on Twitter.
George Floyd’s death was tragic and should never happen to anyone in America.— Rob Portman (@senrobportman) April 20, 2021
I am grateful today that justice appears to be served as we await sentencing.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said in a statement "our system of justice worked. The jury members listened to both sides, weighed the evidence, and came to this verdict."
My thoughts are with George Floyd's family. While nothing can replace the loss of a loved one, this is a step towards accountability for his murder. We must make sure that our systems always recognize that Black lives matter.— Nan Whaley (@nanwhaley) April 20, 2021
"What Derek Chauvin did to George Floyd is murder," Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said in a statement. "He killed more than a man - he nearly killed the hope of justice. The jury called it murder, and restored that hope. Chauvin dishonored his badge and a noble profession."
Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio CEO Eddie Koen said, "this is a step toward justice. We hope this sends a message that we can no longer live in a country where the killings of unarmed Black men and women are done without criminal or moral consequence. ... We must remain vigilant to create a culture where we hold those accountable who hate or dehumanize us."
A small crowd gathered for a celebratory rally at the Hamilton County Courthouse following the announcement of the verdict. "Guilty on three. Reopen all the cases," they chanted.
Myron Hollister Haynes was leading the chants through his megaphone in front of the courthouse. He says while the verdict was a cause for celebration, there's still changes that need to be made in the justice system.
"We know that a man is still dead," Haynes said. "We still live in a society where putting your knee on someone's neck is an option, and until those things change, this is just a small victory."
Through the evening's light rain, Brian Taylor, another coordinator of the rally, said reactions to Floyd's death show most Americans are against police brutality.
"I think a lot of us don't necessarily know what role we can play and we don't realize how we can be most effective," Taylor said. "Some people think you do that through campaigning for bills and legislation and that's what they can do, but its shown time and time again throughout history that what happens in the streets determines what's later codified into law or not."
Meanwhile, NPR member station WFPL reporter Ryan Van Velzer was at Jefferson Square Park in downtown Louisville, Ky. Mere months before Floyd's death at the knee of Chauvin, Louisville Police killed Breonna Taylor by gunfire when they forced entry into her apartment while executing a warrant. Only one LMPD officer was indicted for "wanton endangerment" for firing into a neighboring apartment of Taylor's.
Upon hearing the verdict, Van Velzer reported "a few cheers, a few shouts of guilty!"
Taylor's boyfriend Kenneth Walker, who was with her the night she died, was in Minneapolis with Floyd's family.
Philonise Floyd is George Floyd's brother. NPR reported he had been seen praying in the courtroom. Asked by a pool reporter what he had been praying for, he answered: "I was just praying they would find him guilty. As an African American, we usually never get justice."
-Additional reporting by Cory Sharber