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Nation reacts after Derek Chauvin convicted in George Floyd's death

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Protesters in Minneapolis cheered Tuesday after a jury convicted former police officer Derek Chauvin of all three counts in the death of George Floyd, whose killing last year re-ignited a nationwide movement calling for police reform and racial justice. An attorney for Floyd's family called the verdict "painfully earned justice." 

The jury, which consisted of six White people, four Black people and two multiracial people, convicted Chauvin of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Floyd's family, applauded the decision.

"Painfully earned justice has arrived for George Floyd's family and the community here in Minneapolis, but today's verdict goes far beyond this city and has significant implications for the country and even the world," Crump said. "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."

The union representing Minneapolis police officers said Tuesday that it respects the jury's decision, and understands the "enormous burden" it faced in reaching a verdict. 

The Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis called for an end to "political pandering" and "divisive comments," but told Minneapolis residents that the federation "stands with you, and not against you."  

Later on Tuesday, President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris commended the jury's decision.

"Today's verdict is a step forward," Mr. Biden said, adding. "Nothing can ever bring their brother, their father back — but this can be a giant step forward in the march toward justice in America." 

A growing number of lawmakers also expressed relief and gratitude in response to the verdict. Congress has taken up police reform legislation, but disagreements over certain provisions have led the measures to stall.  

In a statement, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the verdict "serves as an official proclamation of what so many of us have known for nearly a year: George Floyd was murdered by an officer who was sworn to protect and serve."

"We should not mistake a guilty verdict in this case as evidence that the persistent problem of police misconduct has been solved or that the divide between law enforcement and so many of the communities they serve has been bridged," Schumer said. "We must remain diligent in our efforts to bring meaningful change to police departments across the country. The Senate will continue that work as we strive to ensure George Floyd's tragic death will not be in vain." 

george floyd protest
People celebrate as the verdict is announced in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin outside the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis on April 20, 2021.  CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty
 

Police reform legislation has "more momentum" post Chauvin verdict

One of the co-sponsors of the House police reform bill said Tuesday that the police reform bill passed earlier this year that stalled in the Senate has "absolutely more momentum" after Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd. And a key Republican senator said Tuesday that police reform is a "is a topic ripe for discussion."

The House passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which bans chokeholds and no-knock warrants in drug cases and reforms qualified immunity, making it easier to pursue claims against police officers in civil court, in March. But it hasn't moved in the Senate since then. 

Read more here.

 

"A moment of accountability": Lawmakers react to guilty verdict in Chauvin trial

A growing number of lawmakers expressed relief and gratitude in response to the verdict convicting Derek Chauvin on all counts in the death of George Floyd, whose murder last year sparked a nationwide reckoning on police brutality against Black Americans. Congress has taken up police reform legislation, but disagreements over certain provisions have led these measures to stall.

Read more on lawmakers' responses here

By Grace Segers
 

Emotional video shows Floyd's family reacting to verdict announcement

In an emotional video shared by one of the Floyd family's attorneys, the family can be seen reacting to the jury's guilty verdict as it is presented.

"Pain and joy all in one," attorney Chris Stewart wrote alongside the video. "The world had to demand justice for #georgefloyd its a win for all of you and the world! Change is possible!"

By Victoria Albert
 

Federal civil rights investigation into Floyd's death "ongoing," Merrick Garland says

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said that the Justice Department's civil rights investigation into Floyd's death is "ongoing," despite the jury's verdict.

"The jury in the state trial of Derek Chauvin has fulfilled its civic duty and rendered a verdict convicting him on all counts. While the state's prosecution was successful, I know that nothing can fill the void that the loved ones of George Floyd have felt since his death," Garland said. "The Justice Department has previously announced a federal civil rights investigation into the death of George Floyd. This investigation is ongoing."

By Victoria Albert
 

Biden says verdict can be "a giant step forward in the march toward justice in America"

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris commended the jury's decision in remarks Tuesday night, saying it can be "a giant step forward in the march toward justice in America." 

"Today's verdict is a step forward," Mr. Biden said, adding. "Nothing can ever bring their brother, their father back — but this can be a giant step forward in the march toward justice in America." 

Mr. Biden also spoke to the feeling that Chauvin's guilty verdict is "much too rare," and that it is the result of a "unique and extraordinary convergence of factors." 

Biden speaks about Chauvin's conviction 10:24

"We can't stop here [...] we can and we must work to reduce the likelihood that tragedies like this will ever occur again," Mr. Biden said. 

Mr. Biden also urged Americans to remember George Floyd's final moments, and said, "We must not turn away, we can't turn away. We have a chance to begin to change the trajectory in this country."  

In a similar statement, Kamala Harris said that "We are all a part of George Floyd's legacy, and our job now is to honor it and to honor him." 

"A measure of justice isn't the same as equal justice," Harris said. "This verdict brings us a step closer and the fact is, we still have work to do. We still must reform the system."

Biden & Harris
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on April 20, 2021.  BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty
By Victoria Albert
 

Teenager who recorded George Floyd's death says "justice has been served"

Darnella Frazier, the 17-year-old who recorded the death of George Floyd with her cell phone, said "justice has been served." 

"I just cried so hard," Frazier wrote on Facebook. "The last hour my heart was beating so fast, I was so anxious, anxiety bussing through the roof."

"But to know GUILTY ON ALL THREE CHARGES !!! THANK YOU GOD THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU," Frazier added. "George Floyd we did it!! Justice has been served." 

During Chauvin's trial, Frazier testified that Floyd reminded her of her own family. "I look at that and I look at how that could have been one of them," she said.

Frazier also said she's stayed up at night apologizing to Floyd "for not doing more, and not physically interacting, not saving his life." 

"But it's not what I should have done, it's what he should have done," she said. 

By Victoria Albert
 

George Floyd's family calls for police reform

Brandon Williams, the nephew of George Floyd, said Chauvin's conviction echoes a larger call for police reform across the country. 'Today is a pivotal moment for America," Williams said in a news conference Tuesday. "It's something this country has needed for a while and hopefully today is a part of that. 

Reverend Al Sharpton, who also spoke Tuesday, said Williams was like a son of Floyd's and called it was a "very emotional day." He also thanked the family's attorney, Benjamin Crump, and his legal team, as well as the protestors that "risked their lives" during the coronavirus pandemic to demand justice for his Floyd. 

Williams acknowledged Kenneth Walker, Breonna Taylor's boyfriend, who was in the crowd and called him a good friend. Taylor was killed by Louisville police during a botched raid in 2020.

"Oftentimes the system fails us as Black men and women in America," said Williams. "With all evidence there, everything pointing to a guilty verdict, we sometimes still don't get the guilty verdict. Or in some cases, we don't even get charges." 

Williams said, "We came for one thing and one thing only, and that's justice for George Floyd — and today that's what we got." 

Philonise Floyd, George's brother, said he was relieved by the verdict. 

"I feel relieved today that I finally have the opportunity to hopefully get some sleep," he said at the news conference. "I'm gonna put up a fight every day. Because I'm not just fighting for Floyd, I'm fighting for everybody around this world."

"Today we are able to breathe again," Philonise said before thanking the strangers who protested across America. He then called for Daunte Wright, who was killed by police on April 11 just miles away from the scene where Floyd was killed. "Justice for George means freedom for all." 

George Floyd's brother on Chauvin conviction 04:01
By Zoe Christen Jones
 

Biden and Harris call George Floyd's family: "At least now there's some justice"

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris called the family of George Floyd after the verdict was announced, telling them that "Nothing is gonna make it all better but at least now there's some justice." 

Mr. Biden told the family they have been "incredible" and said he wished he could be there with them, according to a video of the call tweeted by family attorney Ben Crump. He said that he and the vice president were "so relieved" and noted how important it was that Chauvin was found guilty on all charges.

"I'm anxious to see you guys, I really am, and we're gonna get a lot more done… We're gonna do a lot," Mr. Biden said, adding that he hopes to sign the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act — which passed in the House but has not been voted on by the Senate yet — "and a lot more."

Harris said that she is "so thankful to the entire family for your courage, your commitment, your strength."

"And in George's name and his memory, we are gonna make sure his legacy is intact and that history will look back at this moment and know that it was an inflection moment," she said. 

Mr. Biden then said he would "put you on Air Force One and get you here."

By Jordan Freiman
 

"We need to continue holding officers accountable"

Following the verdict, activist Ja'Mal Green said "this isn't something we see on a day-to-day basis."

Green said the last time he recalls a verdict like this coming down against a police officer, it was in the Laquan McDonald murder case in Chicago. In 2014, McDonald was shot 16 times by Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke, and it took roughly a year for video of the shooting to be released. Van Dyke was found guilty of second-degree murder in 2018.

"He was one of the first officers in Illinois to be held accountable. So to see this as one of the first officers to be held accountable in Minnesota, I'm happy, I'm shocked," Green told CBS News.

Activist on holding police accountable 02:35

"But we need to continue holding officers accountable," he said. "We need real legislative change in this country and really look at how we can move the needle. Because this can't keep happening. This cannot be our reality each and every day, bracing for videos and bracing for if a jury or judge is gonna find an officer guilty."

Green spoke of the difficulty of reforming policing and weeding out bad cops as well.

"This system is so corrupt that, how do you even figure out where to start with that?" he said. "We really gotta step back and rethink public safety as a whole."

George Floyd Officer Trial
People cheer after the guilty verdict was announced on April 20, 2021, in Minneapolis. Morry Gash / AP
By Jordan Freiman
 

Chicago mayor calls decision "the only reasonable verdict"

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, whose own city is dealing with backlash over the fatal police shooting of Adam Toledo, said the jury's decision was "the only reasonable verdict." 

"I join my fellow Chicagoans, Americans, and human beings across the world as justice is being served in Minneapolis today," Lightfoot said in a statement. "A jury of his peers listened to the evidence presented by both sides and came to the only reasonable verdict based on the overwhelming evidence presented by the Prosecution." 

"Today marks a moment where future generations can look back and see that we as a nation came together and rightfully demanded justice and accountability. And justice was served," Lightfoot added.  

By Victoria Albert
 

Barack and Michelle Obama say jury "did the right thing"

Former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama commended the verdict, writing in a statement that the jury "did the right thing." But the pair cautioned that "if we're being honest with ourselves, we know that true justice is about much more than a single verdict in a single trial." 

"True justice requires that we come to terms with the fact that Black Americans are treated differently, every day. It requires us to recognize that millions of our friends, family, and fellow citizens live in fear that their next encounter with law enforcement could be their last. And it requires us to do the sometimes thankless, often difficult, but always necessary work of making the America we know more like the America we believe in," the pair said. 

"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," the Obamas added. "We will need to redouble efforts to expand economic opportunity for those communities that have been too long marginalized." 

By Victoria Albert
 

Minneapolis police union said it respects jury's decision

The union representing Minneapolis police officers said Tuesday that it respects the jury's decision, and understands the "enormous burden" it faced in reaching a verdict. 

The Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis called for an end to "political pandering" and "divisive comments," but told Minneapolis residents that the federation "stands with you, and not against you."  

By Victoria Albert
 

Minneapolis mayor says Floyd's life "will have bettered our city"

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey tweeted that "George Floyd came to Minneapolis to better his life. But ultimately his life will have bettered our city." 

"The jury joined in a shared conviction that has animated Minneapolis for the last 11 months," Frey added. "They refused to look away and affirmed he should still be here today." 

By Victoria Albert
 

Attorneys for Floyd's family call the verdict "painfully earned justice"

Floyd family lawyer on Chauvin conviction 08:14

The legal team representing George Floyd's family released a statement supporting the jury's verdict, calling the decision "painfully earned justice." 

"Painfully earned justice has arrived for George Floyd's family and the community here in Minneapolis, but today's verdict goes far beyond this city and has significant implications for the country and even the world," said attorney Benjamin Crump. "Justice for Black America is justice for all of America. 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." 

By Victoria Albert
 

NAACP president: "We will not rest until all in our community have the right to breathe"

NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson lauded the decision, but noted that "While justice landed Derek Chauvin behind bars for killing George Floyd, no amount of justice will bring Gianna's father back." 

"The same way a reasonable police officer would never suffocate an unarmed man to death, a reasonable justice system would recognize its roots in white supremacy and end qualified immunity," Johnson added. "Police are here to protect, not lynch. We will not rest until all in our community have the right to breathe."

By Victoria Albert
 

"I felt relieved": Community reacts to guilty verdicts

Crowds react to Derek Chauvin conviction 04:07

A local community activist told CBS News she "felt relieved" after hearing Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts. 

"And now I'm ready for all the rest of the police that have murdered Black men and women to be found guilty on all charges of murder," she said. She also said that she had doubts about the outcome before the verdicts were read.

"I didn't have doubts that he was guilty. I had doubts in terms of white supremacy, and white supremacy saying that… if you are White, you can get away with murder, as long as it's a person that is Black" she said.

She said that Black people in America "have never been treated like citizens." 

"We've always been treated like slaves," she said. "And some people say we've been treated like second-class citizens, but for the most part, citizens have not been part of the equation when it comes to Black people."

She said that Minneapolis police "jumped on my son" 15 years ago, and now she feels relieved that her son wasn't killed. "We shouldn't have to do that. That's not what you do to citizens." 

Now, she said, she is hoping to take things "to the next level, in terms of getting our freedom."

"And what does freedom look like for Black people?" She asked. "Freedom looks like our right to vote. Freedom looks like our right to assemble without being shot at."

By Jeff Pegues
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