Local leaders react to Chauvin guilty verdict

Moments after jurors found former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, several local leaders reacted to the guilty verdict.

U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA):

“George Floyd and his family deserve justice. Today, a jury deliberated, and we took one step closer towards justice. Congress should now pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and ensure equal treatment under law.”

King County Executive Dow Constantine:

“Today, a Minneapolis jury convicted former police officer Derek Chauvin of all charges – second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter – for the killing of George Floyd last year.

“Mr. Floyd’s death sparked outrage in our community, across the country, and around the world as bystander video went viral. The footage of the last minutes of Mr. Floyd’s life was gut-wrenching, devastating, and impossible to ignore. Those with the privilege to disengage on issues of race, who had not previously had to pay attention, watched with shock and horror as former Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into George Floyd’s neck, even after he had stopped moving and drew his final breath. Members of the Black community across this nation, as well as Indigenous people and other communities of color were also horrified but sadly, not surprised.

“We can, and should, hope that the jury verdict today will mark a shift – a break in a system poisoned by racism. Today’s verdict can represent a major step toward a more racially just America, one where the state, and the agents of the state, seek to truly serve every person and all communities with dignity, respect, and care, and will speak up – even against their own colleagues – when they are wrong. The outcome of this trial illuminates for us all the importance of standing up against racism and bias, in policing and the entire justice system, and in all other systems in our society that disproportionately harm based on race.

“We are responsible for becoming the community and society we want to be. We must stand together against racism, hatred, and violence. We must work together to build a fair, racially just, and equitable society where the color of a person’s skin does not determine life outcomes.

“We must do everything we can to make King County a safe, diverse, welcoming community where every person can thrive.”

Congresswoman Suzan DelBene:

“Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd. The outcome of this trial is one instance of justice being served. The verdict will not bring George Floyd back but I hope it brings some comfort to the Floyd family and the Minneapolis community.

“We must do more to protect our communities from police brutality, increase transparency in policing, and hold officers accountable. The Senate must pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (H.R. 1280) to set national policing standards and begin to rebuild trust in law enforcement.”

Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan:

“The jurors and our system of justice have confirmed what we saw with our own eyes. George Floyd was murdered and Derek Chauvin violated his most solemn duty to protect lives and uphold the law. The cruel and degrading murder of Mr. Floyd shook our nation but for too many Black Americans, his murder reflected an all too often reality of the deep and systemic impacts of racism in our country.

“True justice demands that we admit, recognize and work to address those systemic inequities. True justice would have meant that George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner and countless others never suffered this fate. Although he should still be here today, jurors delivered justice for George Floyd’s friends, family, loved ones and the millions of Americans who mourned and marched for justice.”

“Though this trial is over, and we await justice to be served at the time of sentencing, the work to dismantle institutional racism in our country has far to go. Just as John Lewis and others trying to cross a bridge in Selma decade ago galvanized a nation, the murder of George Floyd showed too clearly how much was left undone. Just since this trial began, Daunte Wright was stopped and died at the hands of police just mere miles from where Mr. Floyd himself was killed. We must demand better than this everywhere in our country.

“Our country must acknowledge and work to dismantle the reality of institutional racism and its insidious impacts on all aspects of our society, including policing. Our country must work to ensure that the promise of America really is available to all Americans. Our country must work to ensure true justice and access to education, employment, healthcare and prosperity. Every family deserves to build generational opportunity instead of intergenerational trauma or despair. We have made some systemic changes in Seattle including new alternatives in policing and historic investments in Black, Indigenous and people of color communities. That work will continue.

“Our community has been through a lot of pain and grief in the last year. In the coming days, many in the community will peacefully come together to remember the life of Mr. Floyd, express themselves, and experience community with one another. As always, we will do all we can to protect the cherished right to assemble and express first amendment rights, but we will also make sure we maintain public safety, protect people, and protect the safety of every community.”

Seattle Council President M. Lorena González:

“Seattle, like the rest of the country, has been anticipating the jury’s verdict in the murder trial of George Floyd. For weeks, we have all tuned into the trial seeking to hold former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin accountable for the killing of Mr. Floyd, which sparked a global racial reckoning and this civil rights moment.

“The verdict finding former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin guilty of all three charges is welcome news but we know that it will not bring George Floyd back to his family. And we know that far too often police killings of Black, Brown and Indigenous members of our communities have resulted in no justice or systemic change.

“We live in two different Americas, where your access to community safety is often determined by your skin color. The status quo of American’s criminal legal system too often fails to deliver meaningful justice to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities.

“The murder of George Floyd is still painful for so many of us regardless of this conviction. Elected officials, like me, must remain committed to justice and just systems that meet the needs of, not perpetuates the inequities, of Black-Americans in our communities. Justice is not achieved or lost in a single trial. True justice will only be won when BIPOC individuals are safe from police brutality and the oppressive systems of institutionalized racism that prevent fair and equal access to safety, opportunity and prosperity.

“As our community members begin to process and react to this conviction, I urge us all to peacefully demonstrate and to refrain from violence and destruction.

“Likewise, it is my expectation that the Seattle Police Department will refrain from indiscriminate and unnecessary use of force, will establish clear channels of communication with the members of the Seattle City Council and members of the general public, and work to ensure that residents have the opportunity to safely exercise their First Amendment rights.”

Former City Council member and Seattle mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell:

“I share the relief of the nation, and especially the Black community, with the guilty verdicts in the murder of George Floyd. While Floyd’s family will never recover from his loss, this is the beginning for advancing justice and accountability. We must use this moment to build further momentum for racial justice and overdue police accountability and reform. We must not let this moment pass without redoubling our commitment to equity and advancing the Black Lives Matter message and movement.”

Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold:

“It’s been a little less than a year since George Floyd’s murder was televised around the world. His death raised the consciousness of an entire population to the realities of violence and death faced by Black and Brown people in this country when they come into contact with law enforcement. Those who watched and protested his murder - and the murders of countless other people of color by law enforcement, both before and after - have created a racial reckoning and civil rights movement of global proportions to ensure that we all see, feel, and insist that Black Lives Matter.

“George Floyd’s murder at the hands of a police officer will in perpetuity serve as the flashpoint for a painful, dramatic, and very necessary shift in the way this city and our country have allowed institutionalized racism to thrive in our culture.

“I call for any demonstrations to be peaceful and nonviolent in a way that honors both Mr. Floyd’s name and the movement’s legacy as change agents for the next generation.

“I call for the Seattle Police Department to not interfere with peaceful protest and adhere to the new Seattle Police Department crowd management policies that include reducing presence, when safe and feasible; providing media, legal observers, and protest medics safe avenues to carry out their important roles; de-escalation; communication; and isolating individuals taking unlawful actions in otherwise lawful crowds.

“True justice for George Floyd will not be attained with this verdict. No verdict will restore George Floyd’s life. No verdict will heal the feelings of powerlessness in the young people who courageously did what they could do as bystanders to stop the loss of life caused by the adult authority figures in front of them. No verdict can replace the love Mr. Floyd gave to his family and friends. No verdict can make up for the countless verdicts that came before, when Black men and women were killed by police, and their killers did not face justice.

“It is long past time that we address the history of racial injustice and systemic problems with policing and the legal system. We, at this time, in this country, must find a way to channel the demands of protest into policy that builds true community safety. Today’s announcement requires us to be steadfast to that commitment.”

Gov. Jay Inslee:

“This was more than the death of one person. It was a trauma for George Floyd’s family, his children, the bystanders and indeed the entire nation. Weary families in so many communities, traumatized from images of brutality against Black and Brown and feeling no power to stop it, can take heart today that justice was served in this instance. Yet, there is still much work to do. This is one step on a long journey we are just beginning.

“Today is a day for all to recommit themselves to a more perfect union, in their communities and in our nation. Let this be the beginning of progress rather than the end of one trial. Today’s sense of relief for some is fleeting. They know more must be done to prevent this from happening again and again. Too many live with this uncertainty. We must end systemic racism.

“In Washington, we are reforming independent investigations into police use of force; clarifying the requirements for tactics; increasing oversight and accountability for law enforcement officer conduct; and establishing better standards for permissible uses of force.”

“But ending systemic racism goes beyond our justice system.

“Our communities will not be at peace until everyone feels secure to do the most basic things. I’m talking about the right to vote. Or the right to get in the car and drive anywhere safely without fear of being killed. To walk down any street in America or go shopping at the department store without being selectively followed. To work regardless of what your hair or skin color looks like. To rent or buy a house in the neighborhood of your choice, or to get an insurance policy without being asked for a credit score. These ordinary activities must be available to all.

“We must remain proactive – from those of us in elected office to those providing services in our agencies – to turn the tide of injustice. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said ‘the moral arc of the universe’ bends toward justice, and it takes all of us to usher it into existence.”

Seattle Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda:

As Non-Black people we don’t really get to say what justice for the Black community looks like. Like many of you, I’ll get to tuck my kid in tonight. As a mom, I cannot stop thinking about the countless Black mothers who won’t get to see their children again. George Floyd called out for his mom. Daunte Wright called out for his mom. To be a mother in a world where you cannot protect your child from the violence of the state is unconscionable. Today’s verdict provides some relief, but I know we still have a long way to go.

“Black community members have long been deprived of basic rights that every single person is entitled to. Things that we take for granted every day like being able to be home with your family, to be with your loved ones, to hold your kids close at the end of the day, to be able to walk freely down the street, drive to the gas station, to sleep in your own home. To not have to have ‘the talk.’ True community safety is being able to do these things freely.

“Today cannot be about one officer nor about one police department. Over the course of the Derek Chauvin trial, since testimony began on March 29, at least 64 people have died at the hands of law enforcement nationwide, with Black and Latino people representing more than half of the dead. As of Saturday, the average was more than three killings a day. Stories like 20 year old Daunte Wright or 13 year Adam Toledo have ripped open our hearts all over again. This is a systemic issue.

“There are a lot of policy proposals I could point to, investments, divestments, that have become the center of policy discussions over the last year – but this moment, this moment all I can think about is the families. The Black families across our City and across this country. To those families, I say that I see you, I hold you in my heart, and I promise to fight for a world where justice is a lived experience everyday.”

King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg:

“The whole world witnessed the slow and deliberate killing of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer last year and today a jury delivered a just verdict holding the officer accountable for murder. While the jury’s decision makes that label official, this is cannot be the end of the story.

The verdicts do not erase the pain this murder caused or fix the many other problems with policing in America. This verdict is accountability, which is one facet of justice, but we have a lot of work to do as a nation before we achieve true social justice that benefits everyone.

Since George Floyd’s murder, dozens of other people of color have been killed by police. There are steps in the accountability process that must be fixed, here and across the nation. As prosecutors, we have a duty to help bring about those systemic changes.”

Snohomish County Executive Somers:

“Justice is served. The fact that a jury found George Floyd’s murderer guilty doesn’t lessen the crime nor diminish the many other criminal acts that have never been accounted for in our justice system. However, this verdict should motivate us all to work on making our justice system fairer, particularly for members of Black and African American communities, and building a community where no one can commit murder with impunity. I will continue to work to build an anti-racist government and a Snohomish County that is safe and welcoming for all residents.”

Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant:

“In a rare measure of justice under capitalism, Derek Chauvin was convicted on all counts for the brutal murder of George Floyd. We should be crystal clear that this verdict is entirely due to the Black Lives Matter protests last summer, which became the largest protest movement in American history. It is a testament to the power of mass action with multiracial, working-class solidarity. All credit goes to the rank-and-file activists in the Black Lives Matter movement for this victory, and particularly to the leadership of the youth. My congratulations and solidarity to the 20 million courageous protestors, many of whom faced down tear gas, rubber bullets, police violence, and arrest to demand justice for this racist murder and deeper, systemic change.”

Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland:

“My heart goes out to the family of George Floyd, the residents of Minneapolis, and people across the country. I am relieved that a jury held Chauvin accountable for murder, and it is my sincere hope that this guilty on all counts verdict is the first step in the long march towards justice. The U.S. Senate has no more excuses. It’s time to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to rebuild trust in policing and improve public safety for all people, regardless of zip code or background.”

Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards and City Manager Elizabeth Pauli:

“With today’s announcement of a guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, we want to acknowledge the crushing weight and deep impacts that the death of George Floyd, this subsequent trial, and the wait to get to this verdict have had on our community and the entire nation. Juries play a crucial and oftentimes difficult role in our justice system, and we want to express our appreciation for this jury’s efforts to come to a decision in this monumental case.

While the trial of Derek Chauvin comes to a close, we recognize that this historic moment alone does not lift the tension and weight that currently rest on our city or our country. As we reflect on today’s national news, we also acknowledge the continued local impacts of ongoing investigations – including the one into the death of Manuel Ellis – right here in Tacoma.”

Renton City Councilmember and candidate for County Council Kim-Khanh Van:

“George Floyd’s life mattered and Black Lives Matter. Guilty verdicts are steps toward justice, but we cannot expect real change without sustained accountability and commitment to meaningful reform. We must continue our work, not just by acknowledging the existence of systemic racism and bias, but by fighting every day to forever eradicate this impediment to health, justice, and equal opportunity for all.”