Reactions from local leaders pour in after Derek Chauvin found guilty in George Floyd’s death

Ex-cop found guilty of all three charges

Local leaders react after Derek Chauvin found guilty in George Floyd's death
Local leaders react after Derek Chauvin found guilty in George Floyd's death

DETROIT – Michigan elected officials, community leaders and organizations are reacting to the verdict in the trial of Minneapolis ex-cop Derek Chauvin. You can read all the statements below.

A jury found Chauvin guilty of all three charges in the murder of George Floyd. Chauvin was charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He was found guilty on all three charges.

Read more: Jury finds Derek Chauvin guilty of all charges in George Floyd’s murder

Floyd died last May after Chauvin, a 45-year-old now-fired white officer, pinned his knee on or close to the 46-year-old Black man’s neck for about 9 1/2 minutes as Floyd gasped that he couldn’t breathe and onlookers yelled at Chauvin to get off.

The verdict came after about 10 hours of deliberations over two days. It was read Tuesday. Chauvin had his bail revoked and he was remanded into custody.

Watch more: Michigan officials react to verdict in Derek Chauvin trial

Reaction from local leaders on guilty verdicts in Derek Chauvin murder trial
Reaction from local leaders on guilty verdicts in Derek Chauvin murder trial

Reactions on the verdict

“Justice has been served. Yet our work to dismantle systemic racism, in policing and all its forms, must continue. We must eliminate the barriers that have prevented or made it more difficult for Black Michiganders, as well as marginalized people of all races, to live, work, drive and vote in our state. I will continue to work to that end.” -- Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson

“The conviction of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd is, I hope, a turning point for our country and for policing in our country. As both a career law enforcement officer and a Black man, the video of the killing of George Floyd was difficult to watch. It was even more painful to witness people claim that what we all saw didn’t really happen. The jury today made clear with this verdict that this was exactly what we knew it was.

George Floyd was murdered. George Floyd did not deserve to die that day. George Floyd did not deserve to be treated with violence and disrespect by officers whose job it is to serve—not occupy—our communities.

Too often and for too long, People of Color, especially Black men, have been expected to accept police violence as a part of life. This verdict makes clear that police violence is not acceptable. It makes clear that Black lives do matter. Let us build on this moment of justice delivered toward a fairer, more equitable society for all.” -- Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans

“For George Floyd and his family, justice. For the rest of us, a reminder to continue pushing for justice in every corner of our society. My heart is with George Floyd’s family, and I want them to know that millions of Michiganders, Minnesotans, and Americans mourn with them. No verdict can bring George back, but his legacy will live on. Last year, millions of people around the world spoke with a collective voice when we said Black Lives Matter. Together, we will continue tackling the deep-rooted, structural racism and inequity present in our institutions and faced by Black Americans every day. Our work is just getting started. I think George’s daughter Gianna Floyd said it best, “Daddy changed the world.” -- Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

“Today, justice was served for George Floyd and his family. As a Black man in America, I have felt the sting of racism and injustice personally, and too many of our brothers and sisters know the visceral pain and exhaustion that communities of color face every day. That is why we must honor George Floyd’s legacy and the legacy of countless others as we advance justice and tackle inequities through our words and deeds. We have to address the pain that so many individuals are feeling with purpose as we work towards restoring the respect that all individuals of color deserve. When we do that, we can ensure that everyone makes it home to their loved ones at the end of the day. This verdict is a good outcome, and it was made possible by the community organizers, faith leaders, and law enforcement officers, who had to courage to make their voices heard, but the work is not done. We must continue to press for policies that protect and expand access to justice and opportunity.” -- Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist

“While justice landed Derek Chauvin behind bars for killing George Floyd, no amount of justice will bring Gianna’s father back. The same way a reasonable police officer would never suffocate an unarmed man to death, a reasonable justice system would recognize its roots in white supremacy and end qualified immunity. Police are here to protect, not lynch. We will not rest until all in our community have the right to breathe.” -- NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson

“This conviction brings some measure of justice to George Floyd’s family, and to a nation that has grieved for him and so many other people of color unjustly killed at the hands of officers who are sworn to protect them. We now must turn our attention to the kind of reforms necessary to eliminate the embedded bias and structural racism that exists in some police departments. Now begins the work of community restoration and rebuilding trust in policing. We are reaching out to police and community leaders throughout Michigan to address these issues here.”

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission was created by the Michigan Constitution to safeguard constitutional and legal guarantees against discrimination. The Commission is charged with investigating alleged discrimination against any person because of religion, race, color or national origin, genetic information, sex, age, marital status, height, weight, arrest record, and physical and mental disability. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights serves as the operational arm of the Commission.” -- James E. White, Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights

“There’s no amount of time that could’ve prepared us for the verdict of this trial. The only thing was left leading up to it is your thoughts and the growing pit in your stomach. When I heard the news of the guilty verdict, I was relieved. This is one small step toward accountability. But make no mistake, George Floyd should still be alive today. That is justice. But I hope the verdict brings some measure of peace to George Floyd’s family, and I continue to pray for them as they deal with the pain and trauma of losing their loved one.

“We still have so much work to do to fix a system that has denied accountability and justice for Black Americans for far too long. Today renews a call for action. We need to make real change, and it starts with getting the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act passed in the Senate and signed into law. Let’s do it for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the countless other Black Americans whose lives were taken due to police violence and brutality. Black lives matter, today and always.” -- Democratic Michigan Rep. Brenda Lawrence

“So many white people in positions of power have killed Black men, Black women, Black children and gotten away with it. Could it be different this time? We saw this murder with our own eyes. There was no question. And yet, we have felt the same in other cases in the past.

Now we know. A jury of his peers has found Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts. It is such a relief that at least in this one case, on this one day, justice was served in America. Last June, I participated in what was perhaps the biggest racial justice demonstration in Macomb County history. Estimates are that 6,000 people participated and made Hall Road an avenue to change and healing.

This verdict is another chapter in a movement that has changed the world. Today, we honor George Floyd and his family and pray that this decision brings them some semblance of peace. Tomorrow, we continue to fight police brutality, invest in our Black communities, and craft policies that, at long last, recognize that Black lives matter.” -- Democratic Michigan Rep. Andy Levin

“Real justice would mean that George Floyd was with us today. George Floyd did not want a murder conviction. All he wanted was to breathe.

We are relieved. Yet we are deeply saddened that George Floyd’s life wasn’t valued for the 9 minutes and 29 seconds Derek Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck.

Today’s verdict does provide some measure of accountability. Today, Derek Chauvin was—rightly and appropriately—found guilty on all counts. We pray that this brings some comfort to George Floyd’s family. Through this painful and traumatic trial, we witnessed history. We hope this verdict will serve as a symbol that the reckoning for racial justice has indeed sparked reform.

But the fight for real justice must continue. Real justice will come about only once Black people are safe and valued. Real justice will come about only once we have dismantled the historic legacy of racism in our country—a country that owes its greatness to Black people.

All of us, in law enforcement and outside, must continue to work together towards real justice. And we must do so in peace and love. Today’s verdict was wholly necessary, and wholly appropriate. But real justice will come about only once all of us can breathe free.” -- Washtenaw County Prosecutor Eli Savit and Chief Assistant Prosecutor Victoria Burton-Harris

“The death of George Floyd has rightfully been recognized as murder by the jurors in the trial of Derek Chauvin. It is now the obligation of elected officials, community leaders and the law enforcement community throughout this country to recognize the need for reforms to transition from policing by force to cooperative efforts to create safer communities.

For too long, fear and brutality have been at the heart of how some individuals in law enforcement view their roles within our communities. The result has had devastating consequences for residents, and particularly the Black community and other communities of color.

Last year, I announced seven proposals as part of a series of actions for police reform. The proposals seek to increase transparency surrounding law enforcement agencies and ensure accountability from and for law enforcement officers.

It is time to acknowledge that there are problems with how and who we police. Multiple lives have been lost at the hands of law enforcement since the death of Mr. Floyd. This serves as a constant reminder that those in communities of color continue to be wronged by a system that has repeatedly failed to protect them.

It is incumbent upon the leaders of our communities, our state, and our nation to effectuate change. The murder of Mr. Floyd by a man who wore the uniform of those sworn to serve and protect cannot be allowed to pass as one more unfortunate moment in our nation’s history. We cannot simply be satisfied by a guilty verdict. It must be a catalyst for change. I am committed to using the authority of the Department of Attorney General to reform the system to hold bad officers accountable and ensure community policing is truly a partnership between our residents and the men and women who wear a uniform and pledge to help keep them safe.” -- Michigan Attorney General, Dana Nessel

“Almost one year later, a mother is still mourning her son, a daughter is still growing up without her father, and a brother is still grieving a friend. A conviction like this does not bring George Floyd back to his family, but it sets a precedent and protects other families from suffering similar pain and tragedy. I commend the jury for their decision and urge my colleagues to work together to ensure our country can simultaneously uphold racial justice and public safety. I hope the Floyd family is able to find peace as time goes on – my heart continues to hurt for them, for Black communities, and for our nation as we grieve together.” -- Democratic Michigan Rep. Debbie Dingell

“The conviction of Derek Chauvin on all three charges for murdering George Floyd is what accountability looks like in this moment. Let us be clear, George Floyd—and many other Black and Brown Americans who we have lost to police violence—should still be alive today. Gianna’s father should be alive. This is why we must strive for a more just and equitable system.

A system built on the foundation of justice and fairness must mean we never get to a point where Black and Brown communities wait with bated breath for a guilty verdict when there is absolutely no mistake that a life was prematurely taken. A system built on equity means every person in this country has an opportunity to thrive and have what they need to live a full life. This is what today’s verdict should be: the beginning of a more fair, just, and equitable society. As always, I continue to pray for George Floyd’s loved ones. No family should have had to go through this ordeal. I will continue to work hard and together with community members and advocates to make all of this a reality.” -- Democratic Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib

“While I’m grateful for this verdict, it brings no satisfaction. Justice is still unfulfilled and I’m more committed than ever to addressing the inequities in our criminal justice system that allowed this to happen in the first place. We also have to commit to action to end the racism that is embedded in all of our systems before we can heal.” -- Oakland County Executive David Coulter

“The criminal justice system doesn’t always work, but it worked today for the family of George Floyd. I was proud of Chief James Craig last May when he became the first big city police chief to call the death of Mr. Floyd what it was: murder.

Now a year later, today’s verdict sent a message that this country, including many police officials who testified at the trial, will not tolerate the type of treatment that Blacks and other people of color too often receive from police in too many cities.” -- Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan


About the Authors:

Paula Tutman is an Emmy award-winning journalist who came to Local 4 in 1992. She's a Peace Corps alum who spent her early childhood living in Sierra Leone, West Africa and Tanzania and East Africa.

Natasha Dado is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit.