May 18, 2021

George Floyd Murder: Leaders React To The Conviction of Derek Chauvin

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He faces up to 75 years in prison when he returns for sentencing in eight weeks.

FILE PHOTO: A makeshift memorial and mural outside Cup Foods, where George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer on Sunday, May 31 PICTURE: Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

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MINNEAPOLIS: The death of George Floyd touched off international protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all counts Tuesday for his involvement in George Floyd’s death, a verdict that could send the disgraced former Minneapolis police officer to prison for the rest of his life.

Dressed in a gray suit, Chauvin’s eyes darted left and right over his light blue surgical mask as the judge read the jury’s verdict, but he betrayed little else in the way of emotion.

Convicted of second-and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter, Chauvin stood up quickly after the judge ordered his bail revoked and compliantly placed his hands to be handcuffed before he was led out of the courtroom.

He faces up to 75 years in prison when he returns for sentencing in eight weeks.

Outside the courthouse, the crowd erupted into cheers when word of the verdict filtered out.

“All three counts! All three counts!” the crowd chanted.

Leaders and human rights organisations have reacted to the news

Barack Obama: Jury ‘Did Right Thing’

Former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama have released a statement following the verdict.

“Today, a jury in Minneapolis did the right thing,” they wrote, calling the verdict a “necessary step on the road to progress”.

But it’s “not sufficient”, they wrote.

“True justice requires that we come to terms with the fact that Black Americans are treated differently, every day.”

The couple is holding the Floyd family in their prayers, they said, “in the hopes that they may find peace”.

Here is the Obamas statement on the verdict:

Minneapolis police: ‘Stop the race-baiting’

Minneapolis’ police federation, a not-for-profit organisation representing police – thanked the jury for their “dedicated work” shouldering “an enormous burden”.

“We also want to reach out to the community and still express our deep remorse for their pain, as we feel it every day as well. There are no winners in this case and we respect the jury’s decision.

“We need the political pandering to stop and the race-baiting of elected officials to stop.

“In addition, we need to stop the divisive comments and we all need to do better to create a Minneapolis we all love.”

The group added that the police federation stands with the people – not against them.

Nancy Pelosi thanks Floyd for his ‘sacrifice’

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has weighed in, thanking George Floyd for “sacrificing your life for justice”.

“Because of you and because of thousands, millions of people around the world who came out for justice, your name will always be synonymous for justice,” the top Democrat said at a press conference.

Pelosi’s remarks were quickly criticised on Twitter and described as tone deaf.

“Listening to Nancy Pelosi, you’d think George Floyd voluntarily died…” wrote one user.

“Nancy Pelosi’s take is awful and tone deaf,” said writer Randi Singer on Twitter. “George Floyd didn’t ‘sacrifice’ his life. He was not a solider who died in battle. He was an American citizen murdered by a cop.”

Here’s a video of Pelosi’s remarks:

Minnesota governor: ‘Important step forward for justice’

When Derek Chauvin knelt on the neck of George Floyd last May, Minnesota’s governor Tim Walz ordered lawmakers to convene special sessions on police reform and later signed reforms into law.

On Tuesday, it was Walz again – only two years into his term – calling in the National Guard in anticipation of potential rioting after the Chauvin verdict.

In a statement posted to social media, the Democrat wrote: “Today’s verdict is an important step forward for justice in Minnesota. The trial is over, but our work has only begun.”

Arguing that “true justice” can only come through systemic reforms, Walz said “accountability in the courtroom is only the first step”.

“Let us continue on this march towards justice,” he concluded.

Boris Johnson: ‘I welcome this verdict’

The death of George Floyd sparked an outcry across the US, but it also set off mass protests around the world, including in UK cities like London and Birmingham.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is one of the first world leaders to react to the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin over Floyd’s death.

In a post on Twitter, Johnson wrote he was “appalled” by how Floyd died and is keeping the Floyd family in his thoughts.

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