Tuesday’s guilty verdict on all three counts against ex-Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd drew swift reactions from Bay Area, state, and national leaders.
“I can’t breathe. Those were George Floyd’s last words,” U.S. President Joseph Biden said on Twitter after the verdict.
“We cannot let them die with him. We have to keep hearing them,” Biden said. “We must not turn away. We cannot turn away.”
“This can be a moment of significant change,” the president said.
Chauvin was charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter for kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than 9 minutes on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis.
“(T)oday’s verdict provides some accountability as we work to root out the racial injustice that haunts our society. We must continue the work of fighting systemic racism and excessive use of force.”Gov. Gavin Newsom
U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, seemed to agree with Biden.
“This verdict has cracked open the door to accountability, but true justice is a world in which this never happened to Mr. Floyd, or to countless others,” Lee said.
“Let this be a reminder that we must move forward and never turn back,” she said.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Floyd would be alive if he looked differently.
“The hard truth is that, if George Floyd looked like me, he’d still be alive today,” Newsom said.
Newsom added that the conviction won’t bring Floyd back to life or undo the harm to his family.
“But today’s verdict provides some accountability as we work to root out the racial injustice that haunts our society,” Newsom said. “We must continue the work of fighting systemic racism and excessive use of force.”
San Francisco Mayor London Breed said, like Newsom, that the verdict won’t bring Floyd back.
But she said, “What this verdict does reflect is that the tide is turning in this country, although still too slowly, toward accountability and justice.”
U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, echoed some of the sentiments of others.
“Though nothing can bring back George Floyd, I hope that today’s guilty verdict can bring his family and friends some peace,” Thompson said. “And I hope that this measure of accountability for his tragic death can help our nation heal.”
A step toward accountability
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond called the verdict “an important and long-overdue step for accountability, yet tremendous work remains if we want to truly eliminate the systemic racism that persists in all of our institutions–including public education–and which has denied students and communities justice for generations.”
He added that “It is also important to remember that despite today’s verdict, our students, educators, and families have experienced extraordinary trauma as they’ve struggled to make sense of this tragedy, the trial, and everything that transpired in between. I encourage all of our schools in the coming days to create space for open, honest dialogue for students and adults to process their emotions and use their voices to create lasting change.”
Bishop Bob Jackson, pastor of Acts Full Gospel Church in Oakland said he feels as if justice was served Tuesday.
“I feel like it was right,” Jackson said. “He (Chauvin) was guilty of murder.”
“I’m stunned,” said Cat Brooks, co-founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project, which has sought reform for years in the way police treat people of color. “A little in shock,” she said.
Brooks said the case does not signify a turning point in race relations in the U.S. but “it signifies progress.”
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said more needs to be done.
“Let us all be in conversation about what’s next,” Schaaf said. “We still have a lot of justice work tomorrow.”