The jury has made its decision and found a former Minneapolis police officer guilty in the killing of George Floyd, whose death in May 2020 sparked worldwide protests calling for police reform.
The nation had been on edge ahead of the jury’s decision. Before the verdict was announced Tuesday, President Joe Biden said he was “praying the verdict is the right verdict.” And in D.C., officials prepared for the outcome with police on 12-hour shifts; about 250 National Guard members were also activated as part of preparations for any protests in the District.
At Black Lives Matter Plaza in D.C., the scene of several demonstrations last summer, most of the area is undergoing work to replace electrical systems under the roadway. Several people gathered to await the reading of the verdict.
Derek Chauvin convicted on all charges. pic.twitter.com/393TCHDLgd
— Alejandro Alvarez (@aletweetsnews) April 20, 2021
The National Fraternal Order of Police said in a statement that the trial was “fair and due process was served,” and it hoped that citizens will remain peaceful.
Local officials react to Chauvin verdict
Most lawmakers and officials in the D.C. area agreed that although the verdict won’t bring Floyd back, justice was served, and that the person responsible for his death has been held accountable. They also said that this is a small step toward justice and equity, and there’s more work that needs to be done.
“We know that change won’t come easy, but our determination is stronger than our toughest challenges. We must commit to turning our anger and pain into action that advances justice and equity,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said.
Bowser said Tuesday’s verdict was justice that “came too late for George Floyd.”
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said he hopes that the verdict will bring “some measure of peace” to the Floyd family and the community. But he acknowledged that there is still a “long way to go to live up to our nation’s highest ideals.”
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said the guilty verdict is a step toward accountability for police. “It is a step toward delivering justice — for George Floyd, for his family, for his community, and for our entire country.”
Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen said the verdict was just, but “we must think of the Black Americans who have never received justice.” He called for Congress to act swiftly to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a reform bill which calls for more accountability for law enforcement misconduct nationwide.
Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin hopes that the verdict will bring Floyd’s family some measure of peace, “but George Floyd should be alive today,” he said. “How many Derek Chauvins have gotten away with murder because they weren’t caught on camera? Let’s reform law enforcement now.”
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said there are too many cases where the level of police force “bears no relationship to the crime — and this must end.”
Last year, Montgomery County passed a bill that would ban chokeholds and limit the use of no-knock warrants.
Montgomery County Council member Will Jawando was driving with his daughter when the verdict was read, and he said he had to pull overcome, as he was so overcome.
“I was surprised as much as I was relieved,” Jawando said. “A police officer, charged and convicted in a crime, much less murder … it doesn’t happen often.”
Jawando said seeing the pain and suffering of the community on display as a spectacle, and then having to hope that there will be some measure of accountability takes a toll.
“And to see that over and over again,” Jawando said, referring to the recent killing of Daunte Wright also in Minnesota, “takes a heavy toll.”
He believes that there’s a 50-50 chance that people will either see that more work needs to be done, or people will go the other route and be satisfied that the system works and would want to move on to other issues.
“We can’t turn back; we have to keep on,” Jawando said.
Former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler reflected on the significance of Chauvin’s trial, after similar cases in recent history did not end with the conviction of the officer involved.
“I think it’s a turning point in the sense of police officers coming forward against other officers, I think some of the reforms that have been put in will make this type of thing less frequent,” Gansler said. “People were just cynical, and they thought ‘oh, we’re never going to convict a police officer,’ but today they did, and it was the right decision.”
“There is still so much work to be done to undo the centuries of injustices that have occurred, and to bring about healing among families for whom justice has never come,” Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said.
Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy said that Floyd’s death has “forced us to once again confront issues of racism, inequities in policing, use of force and the need for reform.”
D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine said that fair and just policing should be the standard and they are for many law enforcement officers. “But we also know far too well that people of color are often treated differently. And it can lead to life-changing and life-ending consequences,” Racine said.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay released a statement with Fairfax County police, saying that while the inequities surrounding Floyd’s death were not solved by the guilty verdict, Chauvin has been held accountable for his actions.
“Locally, it is important all Fairfax County residents have the opportunity for a safe and equitable future,” McKay said.
Montgomery County Council member Craig Rice said that there’s a good place for good police officers in the community.
“The challenge is what we continue to see is officers who continue to skirt the law, continue to harass, intimidate and, in some instances, kill people of color and get away with it,” Rice said.
And that’s bad for the community, he said, because all the trust is lost for those people who actually need the police’s help when there are police officers who violate the law
The guilty verdict, Rice said, is a way to “try to get us back to a place where we have some trust in our police. But the reality is we have a long way to go because so many of these stories have not ended the way we saw today.”