Former Pres. Obama, Minnesota governor, and more react to Chauvin verdict

MINNEAPOLIS (NewsNation Now) — George Floyd’s civil legal team, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, and former President Barack Obama weighed in following former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin being found guilty on all counts in the death of George Floyd.

“Today’s verdict is an important step toward justice in Minnesota,” Gov. Walz said in a statement. “The trial is over, but our work has only begun.”

Shortly after the verdict was read, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison spoke from inside the courthouse.

“George Floyd mattered. He was loved by his family and his friends. His death shocked the conscience of our community and the whole world,” said Ellison. “But that isn’t why he mattered. He mattered because he was a human being and there’s no way we can turn away from that reality.”

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris called the Floyd family shortly after the verdict was read.

“Nothing is going to make it all better, but at least now there’s some justice,” Biden told the family.

In a statement, former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama said the jury “did the right thing.”

“For almost a year, George Floyd’s death under the knee of a police officer has reverberated around the world — inspiring murals and marches, sparking conversations in living rooms and new legislation,” the Obamas said. “But a more basic question has always remained: would justice be done? In this case, at least, we have our answer. But if we’re being honest with ourselves, we know that true justice is about much more than a single verdict in a single trial.”

Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump and the rest of Floyd’s civil legal team applauded the verdict.

“This case is a turning point in American history for accountability of law enforcement and sends a clear message we hope is heard clearly in every city and every state,” Crump said on behalf of the Floyd family. “We thank Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and his team for their fierce dedication to justice for George.”

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who faced demands from protesters to defund the Minneapolis Police Department in the wake of Floyd’s death, also addressed the verdict.

“This murder verdict won’t change the fact that George Floyd’s family has been rendered incomplete. It won’t undo the damage to the community, restore the potential and promise of his life, or give a child her father back. But the decision marks an important step in our pursuit of racial justice in Minneapolis – one important step on a much longer journey,” said Frey.

The American Civil Liberties Union reacted by saying they hoped it helped heal the community but it is “a small win” in a system that needed more reform.

“For the first time in Minnesota state history, a white police officer has been held accountable for killing a Black man. While today’s verdict is a small win for police accountability and may help heal a grieving community, the systems that allowed George to be murdered — ripping him away from his family and the communities that loved him so much — remain fully intact,” said the ACLU in a statement.

The Fraternal Order of Police, which represents law enforcement across the country, called for peaceful responses to the verdict.

“The trial was fair and due process was served. We hope and expect that all of our fellow citizens will respect the rule of law and remain peaceful tonight and in the days to come,” the organization said in a statement.

Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was declared dead after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against his neck for about nine minutes. Floyd’s death sparked protests and civil unrest in Minneapolis and across the U.S. over police brutality, at points turning violent.

The jury of six white people and six Black or multiracial ones came back with its verdict after about 10 hours of deliberations over two days. Chauvin was found guilty on all charges: second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Chauvin, who is 45-years-old, could be sent to prison for decades.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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