'An important step forward for justice': Reactions to Chauvin's guilty verdicts

A woman speaks into a microphone in front of a black and white painting.
Jeanette Rupert smiles as she speaks to the crowd at George Floyd Square in front of "Icon of a Revolution," a painting of Floyd by Peyton Scott Russell, in Minneapolis on Tuesday.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Updated: April 21, 8:01 a.m. | Posted: April 20, 5:38 p.m.

A jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter Tuesday in the killing of George Floyd while in police custody last year.

George Floyd's brother, Philonise Floyd, was in the courtroom when Judge Peter Cahill read the three verdicts.

Before they were read, Philonise Floyd appeared to pray, with his hands clasped over his face. As the first guilty verdict was read, his hands began shaking, according to a reporter who was inside the courtroom. By the third reading, his hands were shaking back and forth with his head down and eyes closed, as his head nodded up and down.

"I was just praying that they would find him guilty,” Philonise Floyd said. "I was just praying they would find him guilty. As an African American, we usually never get justice.”

Gov. Tim Walz called the verdicts "an important step forward for justice in Minnesota. The trial is over, but our work has only begun."

Minnesota, he added, must work to rebuild confidence between police and communities of color. "Too many Black people have lost — and continue to lose — their lives at the hands of law enforcement in our state,” an apparent reference to the recent killing of Daunte Wright by a Brooklyn Center officer.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office oversaw Chauvin’s prosecution, called the convictions “accountability, which is the first step towards justice.”

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris delivered their remarks Tuesday evening. Speaking from the White House Tuesday evening, Biden said the conviction “can be a giant step forward" for the nation in the fight against systemic racism. The president and Vice President Kamala Harris went on to call for Congress to act swiftly to address policing reform.

“It’s not enough," Biden said of the verdict. "We can’t stop here.”

Here's how activists, legislators and community members are reacting to the verdicts.

Former President Barack Obama

Floyd family attorney Ben Crump

Daniel R. Meachum, attorney for Roxie Washington, the mother of Floyd’s only child, Gianna Floyd

“There is no jury verdict that could possibly construct or suture the internal void that Gianna will continue to carry for the rest of her life, however when she stated that her daddy changed the world, this verdict will serve as a pointed and remarkable source for her to relish and find that her daddy did in fact change the world.”

Darnella Frazier, whose video of Chauvin pressing his knee into Floyd's neck sparked worldwide outrage when it went viral online

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey

This is a good day in Minneapolis. It is a good day in Minnesota, but let me be exceedingly clear. This is Day One. This is Day One. We've gone through 400 years of injustice, intentional discrimination. Jim Crow, restrictive covenants that run with the land, and all forms of anti-Blackness and structural racism that has impeded our Black community. Now is the time for that change.

Generation after generation, this measure of basic justice through our judicial system has been denied to our Black community that there will in fact be Black residents in our city in our state in our nation that are stunned in fact suspended in disbelief that the jury actually delivered this moment. Well, that reality in and of itself speaks volume for where we are.

There's no playbook for navigating these difficult times. No personal discipline or good intention that will somehow blunt this impact. Justice has been rendered in this case, but we still have a long way to go to achieve true justice in our city and in our country. No matter your path to this moment in time, one thing is certain and that is no resident in our city has been immune from the grip of grief over these last 11 months.

Minneapolis City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins

Minneapolis City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins

But today this verdict is about the humanity of Black people. It's a step towards justice, step towards equality. It's about accountability. And it has illuminated the inequities in our public safety system in this country, the inequities that our Black citizens have been talking about for a very, very, very long time.

White supremacy is at the very core of this country's founding. It's in the soil, It’s in the water, It’s in the very air that we breathe. But today… today, justice was served. Police accountability was handed out. It gives us a little more hope.

I want to thank those brave witnesses, my constituents who cry to the entire world and represented the pain and the anguish that every single Black American in this country is failing. They made sure that they would hold Derek Chauvin accountable for his criminal actions.

I was asked, “what do I think George Floyd square, the intersection of 38 and Chicago, means to Minneapolis?” And I just want to say, I've been literally toiling at 38 and Chicago, for well over two decades. I have long coined the intersection of 38 and Chicago, the soul of this city. I think I can rightfully say that right now. It is the soul of this nation. And so, let's begin to rebuild our community in and around 38 and Chicago. Let's make it a beacon of social justice, known to all throughout the world.

Minneapolis police Chief Medaria Arradondo

I want to acknowledge and thank the jurors on this case for their immense responsibility and honorable civic duty.  The verdict has been read and I respect the process and the decision. 

I would like to thank the men and women of the Minneapolis Police Department as well as their families.  The past year has been difficult and challenging yet they have continued to show up and serve our community with the respect and dignity they deserve.  To our law enforcement partners and the Minnesota National Guard, I want to thank them for their commitment and dedication to serve our City during this time. 

We recognize that our community is hurting, and hearts are heavy with many emotions. However, I have hope. The community that I was born and raised in and that we serve is resilient and together, we can find our moment to begin to heal. To the Floyd family, may peace and comfort guide you along the way. 

We need calm, safety and peace in our communities, today and in the days to come. 

We fully respect and support people’s lawful exercise of their first amendment rights. We ask for people to be peaceful and lawful in their actions.  Now is the time to use our humanity to lift each other up and not tear our City down.  

We have a commitment and an obligation to serve our community and keep our citizens safe.  The Officers of the Minneapolis Police Department will continue to do just that; every day and every night we will strive to do our very best to earn your trust. 

U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland

Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman and House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler

The Police Officer's Federation of Minneapolis

Minnesota Lynx

Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota United FC

Minnesota Wild

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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