Derek Chauvin was led away in handcuffs Tuesday after a Minneapolis jury found him guilty of murder in the death of George Floyd, who suffocated under Chauvin’s knee last May.
Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was convicted on all three counts brought against him: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter.
The jury deliberated for about 10 hours over two days before returning their verdict following the three-week trial.
Chauvin will return to court for sentencing in eight weeks, the judge said. He faces up to 40 years in prison.
In Durham, Mayor Steve Schewel and other city leaders weighed in on the verdict shortly after it was handed down.
“Justice was served,” Schewel told the INDY. “Everyone in America saw the cold-blooded murder, and I’m just glad the jury saw it the same way.”
City Council member Mark-Anthony Middleton was driving to a press conference in the downtown district when he heard the verdict on his car radio.
“I just started weeping,” Middleton said, “and then I started weeping because I was weeping. Why in the hell am I weeping about something that was clear as day? We all watched it. We all watched that man get lynched, but for Black and Brown men that’s not enough. It’s just so exhausting.”
Alexandra Valladares, the first Latinx woman to serve on Durham’s school board, said the verdict was “bittersweet because it comes with all of this collective trauma.”
“Why should folks be sacrificed before people realize, ‘Oh my God, racism is still alive.’ It shouldn’t not take all of that.”
Former Durham Mayor William “Bill” Bell said he was pleased by the verdict.
“It gives me a little more faith in the jury system when it’s picked correctly,” said Bell, who added that he’s now focused on the sentencing phase of the trial.
Antonio Jones, chair of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, was standing in the living room floor of his home in eastern Durham County, zoned in on his television screen awaiting the verdict.
Jones said the millions of Americans who saw Chauvin kneel on Floyd’s neck as he lay begging for his life were forced to grapple with their thoughts about humanity.
“While the trial played out there were moments of pause and reflection,” he said, while referring to the nation’s collective memory of historic verdicts in the past involving Rodney King, O.J. Simpson, and George Zimmerman.
“The question now is whether [Chauvin] will spend the rest of his life in prison?’ Jones said.
Daphne “Noni” Davis, founder of St. Sya Academy, an African-centered private school in South Durham, thinks the verdict may fuel momentum for passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act now before Congress.
The bill seeks greater accountability for police misconduct and enhanced transparency over law enforcement along with police training reforms.
“Politically, the world was watching,” Davis said.
Here are some other reactions:
Today’s three guilty verdicts in the trial of Derek Chauvin are an important public act of accountability. But any verdict on a charge of less than first-degree murder — a charge that Chauvin did not face — is a sign that we still have work to do.
— Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II (@RevDrBarber) April 20, 2021
— North Carolina NAACP (@ncnaacp) April 20, 2021
330 days to confirm what we already knew. 330 days of reliving the trauma of George’s murder, fearing that the system would let us down again, and mourning so many more that we lost. For a murder witnessed by millions.
— Black Lives Matter (@Blklivesmatter) April 20, 2021
President Biden and VP Harris call the Floyd family after the GUILTY verdict! Thank you @POTUS & @VP for your support! We hope that we can count on you for the police reform we NEED in America! ✊🏾 pic.twitter.com/cg4V2D5tlI
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) April 20, 2021
I appreciate the jury’s work for justice. George Floyd’s death shouldn’t have happened and we must continue to work to bring positive change to our state and country. – RC
— Governor Roy Cooper (@NC_Governor) April 20, 2021
More than justice after the fact, I wish George Floyd & others were still here. We celebrate this moment intensely as justice has been denied far too many times from Emmitt Till to Rodney King to Sandra Bland & Breonna Taylor but nothing will change until there are changes . . .
— Jessica Holmes (@JessicaHolmesNC) April 20, 2021
The verdict is bittersweet. While we have a long way to go, this is a step forward in admitting the systemic problems that exist in our justice system, and will hopefully lead to the true reform we need. #ncpol #ChauvinTrial
— Leader Reives (@NCHDLeader) April 20, 2021
I share in the relief that so many people are feeling today because George Floyd and his family got a measure of accountability, but I also feel profound sadness because of the senselessness of his murder. We cannot forget Mr. Floyd.
— Josh Stein (@JoshStein_) April 20, 2021
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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