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Accountability Not Justice: Derek Chauvin Guilty on All Counts
A jury found the former Minneapolis police officer guilty of all three charges in the murder of George Floyd
After a nearly month-long trial and over 10 hours of deliberation, a jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derik Chauvin guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. No amount of victim-shaming, bystander blaming, or medical mental gymnastics - all tactics employed by defense attorneys in this case - could erase the fact that Chauvin acted without regard for the human life of George Floyd.
While news of the verdict has been met with a sense of relief across much of the nation, it’s clear to most that there is still a lot of work to do before justice is achieved - something former President Barack Obama was quick to acknowledge. “Today, a jury did the right thing. But true justice requires much more,” he tweeted.
“While today’s verdict may have been a necessary step on the road to progress it was far from a sufficient one. We cannot rest. We will need to follow through with the concrete reforms that will reduce and ultimately eliminate racial bias in our criminal justice system. We will need to redouble efforts to expand economic opportunity for those communities that have been too long marginalized.
And as we continue the fight, we can draw strength from the millions of people - especially young people - who have marched and protested and spoken up over the last year, shining a light on inequity and calling for change. Justice is closer today not simply because of this verdict, but because of their work.”
The Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition has promised to continue fighting for justice locally. “While we are relieved the jury held Derek Chauvin accountable for the murder of George Floyd, no guilty verdict can bring George Floyd - or the countless Black and brown lives lost to police violence - back,” the group said in a statement this afternoon. “We wish the Floyd family peace and healing. Today’s verdict is a small step towards accountability, but the only way to ensure lasting justice is to divest from the systems of policing and mass incarceration that rip our communities apart.”
NOPD Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said he believes today’s verdict will show all police officers they can no longer hide behind their badge. “The guilty verdict announced today in the trial of Derek Chauvin is justice delivered,” Ferguson said. “This is an important day for our country because we can now begin the healing process and it is an important day for our profession because it shows that police officers are not above the law and will not be able to hide behind a badge from accountability from their actions.”
Whether those words ring true remains to be seen.
In Louisiana, more than 1,000 petitions have been filed requesting new trials on behalf of Louisianans serving time as the result of a non-unanimous jury conviction.
“Each one of these petitions represents a person who is serving time in prison due to an unjust, racist practice that was enshrined in Lousiana’s state constitution under Jim Crow,” said Jamila Johnson, Managing Attorney for the Promise of Justice Initiative’s Jim Crow Juries Project.
Additionally, in spite of a bipartisan push to reduce Louisiana’s state prison population in 2017, Louisiana remains the incarceration capital of the country. According to the Prison Policy Initiative, Louisiana has an incarceration rate of 1,052 per 100,000 people - an incarceration rate far above many countries. Black inmates make up a disproportionate percentage of that population.
Gov. John Bel Edwards, who has often supported criminal justice reforms in Lousiana said that he is “thankful” for today’s verdict, but avoided making any reference to further potential reforms in the state.
“Today, I am thankful that the criminal justice system dispensed justice to George Floyd’s family and to society,” Edwards said.
While today’s verdict will not bring George Floyd back, nor will it erase years of damaging racism and violence, it is a positive step forward that Derek Chauvin was held fully accountable for Floyd’s death.
All people, regardless of teh color of their skin, deserve to be treated fairly, equally, and with dignity by members of law enforcement. Officers should never resort to excessive force when they are dealing with the public. For that reason, we should all be encouraged that so many career law enforcement officials testified to the criminalisty of Chauvin’s actions.
I join many Americans and Louisianans in grieving alongside the Floyd family, and I pray this verdict will give them some measure of peace. I also pray that all people in our state and our nation will stand together, learn from one another, reject violence, and embrace neighborly love.”
The sentencing for Derek Chauvin is set to occur in eight weeks, with an exact date to be released by the court soon.