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Athens Reacts to Derek Chauvin Guilty Verdict

Credit: Singlespeedfahrer/Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday afternoon, a Minneapolis jury found former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murdering George Floyd. Flagpole reached out to local elected officials, civil rights groups and police for comment on the verdict.

From Mayor Kelly Girtz:

The verdict in the trial of the man who brought a premature end to George Floyd’s life demonstrates that nobody is above the law, and that acting as a public employee is no shield for injustice when a crime is committed. As we continue to mourn the loss of George Floyd, we can embrace the widespread recognition that every instance of racial oppression must be replaced by opportunity. For just as small rivulets become streams and rivers that flow to the ocean, every small provision of dignity will contribute to our growth into a nation with a true foundation of equal justice for all.

From Commissioner Mariah Parker, who organized a protest after Chauvin killed Floyd last May:

I feel no relief or joy at this verdict. George Floyd should be alive, as should the countless people killed by police everyday and who will continue to die everyday until public safety is radically transformed. This verdict doesn’t alter that work. 

From District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez:

Today’s verdict is a reminder that for our legal system to be truly just, there must be accountability for all. George Floyd’s life, like every life, was of immense value. The illegal taking of life by anyone, no matter who, must be met with appropriate consequences.

From UGA President Jere Morehead and other top administrators:

Over the past year, we have been hurt, frustrated and exhausted by events unfolding across the country, precipitated by the murder of George Floyd. Today’s verdict provides us, as members of the University of Georgia community, an opportunity to reflect, to heal, and to chart a productive path forward in support of one another. Together we can.

The university also provided a list of resources for emotional and academic support.

From Sen. Raphael Warnock:

First and foremost, I’m thinking about George Floyd’s children and his family, and I’m thankful that they received something that approaches justice today after the trauma they’ve endured—one we’ve seen visited upon Black people and communities of color time and time again, and that never becomes less painful.

Today’s verdict affirming Derek Chauvin’s responsibility for killing George Floyd is the right outcome in this trial, but it is not justice for George Floyd, who should still be here with us, nor for his family and community, who have suffered an immeasurable loss.

We know that there cannot be healing without justice, and likewise, we still have much work to do in the Senate not only to create true justice that prevents more senseless killings of Black people, but to push our system closer to our ideals of equal protection under the law. That’s why reforming policing on the federal level is so imperative, and why Congress must pass legislation like the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act that will help end this cycle of violence and bend the moral arc of the universe closer to justice.

As a voice for Georgians in the Senate, and as a Black man, I hope today’s verdict is the beginning of a turning point in our country where people who have seen this trauma over and over again will know it is possible to have equal protection under the law. And in the meantime, I’m going to continue pushing with everything I can to make sure our federal government honors people’s humanity and recognizes their citizenship—whether it’s at the polls, or during their interactions with police.

From Sen. Jon Ossoff:

George Floyd’s murderer has been convicted, but brutality and racial bias will persist in our justice system until we enact reform. I am urging my colleagues in the Senate to pass criminal justice reform that will ensure public safety, rebuild trust between communities and law enforcement, and secure equal justice for all.

From Mokah Jasmine Johnson of the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement:

The fight for justice is far from over, but this is a step in the right direction. Even as we celebrate the conviction of Chauvin, we cannot be satisfied until they stop killing us. We cannot stop fighting for justice until America stops seeing Black and brown people as a threat.

We cannot allow ourselves to become distracted from the truth by those who misrepresent our movement to sow division. This is a moral issue, and we need to come together to fight for change. We need to vote out politicians that want to preserve a broken system.  Law enforcement officers must be held accountable at every level for bias ed policing, for racial profiling, for keeping their knees on our necks. It’s time to dismantle the criminal injustice system, to end the school-to-prison pipeline, and to repair the damage of racism and inequity.

From Alvin Sheats, president of the Clarke County NAACP chapter:

This is a prime example of the positive outcome when the good people of these United States of America truly unite for the justice system to do justice for those who have been without justice for too long. It is very unfortunate that both of these families have been wrecked. For one family, the father will never be seen again in this life, and the other will experience life’s the absence of a father’s pain and the hurt for a long time to come. However, the truth of this tragedy is that this country’s good people, God fearing people from all walks of life must continue to stand together for that which is just and right  right and just. IF this nation is ever going to be all that it could be and should be for everyone. Again, all of this country’s good people, especially God’s people from all walks of life must continue to stand together for that which is just and right, right and just.

We will update this post if and when more statements come in.