On Tuesday afternoon, jurors found Derek Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd. The verdict, which came 11 months after Floyd was killed, makes Chauvin the first white police officer to be convicted in the murder of a Black man in the history of Minnesota.
In a trial that began March 29, the jury, made up of six white people and six people of color, heard testimony from people who were at the scene of George Floyd’s death and from expert witnesses including a string of medical experts. Chauvin invoked his Fifth Amendment right and did not testify.
After the verdict was announced, President Joe Biden spoke about all of the converging factors that contributed to this decision, from the bystanders at the scene of Floyd’s death to the officers testifying against Chauvin and a jury carrying out their civic duty “under extraordinary pressure.”
“No one should be above the law and today’s verdict sends that message,” Biden said. “But it’s not enough. We can’t stop here. In order to deliver real change and reform we can and we must do more to reduce the likelihood that tragedies like this will ever happen to occur again.”
Some members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation reacted to the verdict on Twitter almost immediately after Judge Peter Cahill announced the jury’s decision, while others released statements expressing their views on the result of the weeks-long trial. Here’s what they had to say:
“Today’s conviction was right,” Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar said in a statement. “For the Floyd family, nothing will bring back George, but this verdict is a first step towards accountability… It’s long past time the Senate moves forward and passes police reform to hold officers accountable for misconduct, increase transparency in policing practices, and improve police conduct and training, including banning chokeholds.”
Democratic Sen. Tina Smith called this moment “a moment of accountability, and also a moment to recommit ourselves to the movement for racial justice his tragic murder sparked.” Sen. Smith issued a series of emotional tweets, saying “I can’t stop thinking about all the Black and Brown people denied their civil rights and denied their lives, where there was no accountability.” Smith said that the work “is still ahead of us.”
“George Floyd’s death represented yet another chapter in a long history of our nation’s failure to stand up for the basic human rights of every American, particularly those of Black men,” Democratic Rep. Angie Craig of Minnesota’s Second District said in a statement. “It is my sincere hope that today’s verdict can one day be understood as a turning point in our nation’s history – and that this decision will bring a long overdue sense of peace to George Floyd’s family and friends.”
Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota’s Third District issued a statement saying: “Justice was served for George Floyd today, but America’s work, our work, to ensure justice, safety and opportunity FOR ALL will continue with even more intention, more fortitude, and more purpose. Onwards in unity.”
Fourth District Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum said in a statement that George Floyd should be alive today. “While this conviction does not return him to his family and those who loved him, it does deliver justice,” Rep. McCollum said. “I urge Republicans in the U.S. Senate to join Democrats in responding to this crisis.” McCollum emphasized that passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in the Senate would be the way forward for “a future free from racial discrimination and senseless violence.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Democrat representing Minnesota’s Fifth District which includes Minneapolis, said on Twitter, “This feels different for our community, justice feels new and long overdue. Rejoice, my beloved community.”
During a trip to Brooklyn Center Tuesday, Omar said that Chauvin’s case “feels like a closed case, where it shouldn’t be really even a question whether there will be an acquittal or a verdict that doesn’t meet the scale of the kind [of crime] that was committed.”
Eighth District Republican Rep. Pete Stauber, a former police officer, tweeted his thanks to jurors for their service, saying: “These are not easy times, and it is my greatest hope that we all now find the strength to unify our communities and move forward together. Our nation’s leaders especially have an obligation to turn down the temperature and reject rhetoric that might incite violence.”
As of press time, Reps. Jim Hagedorn, Michelle Fischbach and Tom Emmer had not issued statements or tweets regarding the verdict.
On Monday, Republican Reps. Hagedorn, Fischbach, Emmer and Stauber wrote a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urging her and members of the House to censure and publicly condemn Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) who appeared at a protest in Brooklyn Center Saturday telling protesters “I hope we get a verdict that says guilty, guilty, guilty. And if we don’t, we cannot go away.”