Officials, community leaders react to Derek Chauvin guilty verdicts

Reaction to the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial is coming in from officials and community leaders throughout southeast Wisconsin.

Chauvin was found guilty in all counts against him in the death of George Floyd last May.

Statements of reaction are posted below:

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin)

"George Floyd pleaded for his life and it’s clear to me that police officer Derek Chauvin used excessive force and took it away. Justice has been rightly served and he will be held accountable for this murder. Far too many Black lives have been taken by police and change is long overdue. This must strengthen our resolve to take action and pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to help stop systemic racism and bias in policing and start saving lives."

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers

"There’s no verdict that can bring peace to loved ones when someone is taken from them. My heart and thoughts are with George Floyd’s family, his loved ones, and the entire community. "While this is a moment of accountability in our justice system and our country, we are reminded that justice for Black lives is not a moment—it requires meaningful, sustained, and systemic change.  "Today’s verdict doesn’t replace the changes we must make to keep our promises of a more fair and more equitable state and country. Every day—and especially today—we must reaffirm and resolve to continue our work toward justice." 

Wisconsin Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes (D)

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul

"As I said last year, what we saw on the video of the events leading to George Floyd’s death was not law enforcement," said Attorney General Kaul. "Derek Chauvin was not protecting or serving the residents of Minneapolis. He was committing a horrific crime."

"No jury verdict can bring Mr. Floyd back. Nor does this verdict mean that we don’t need to reform our criminal justice system. But today’s verdict does mean there will be accountability and, I hope, a measure of healing, especially for Mr. Floyd’s family."

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett

"A jury in Minneapolis has reviewed the facts in the Chauvin case and delivered a just verdict."

"The image of George Floyd dying is a permanent part of our collective memory. To move forward, we must understand violence against Black people—and other people of color—is real. And, while rare, there are people in positions of authority who perpetrate that violence. I condemn that.

"Here in Milwaukee, we are moving forward with new approaches in law enforcement. We are focused on accountability, evolving law enforcement culture, and increasing community respect.

"The death of George Floyd prompted many to raise their voices for justice. Peaceful petitioning for change is an essential part of American society. It is essential for Milwaukee’s future. Peace and peaceful protest is the way to reach the goals we share."

Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley

"My thoughts are with the family, the friends, and the community of George Floyd who are deserving of our continued love, strength, and support.

"For close to a year, millions across the globe joined the family in their righteous calls for justice, but true justice lies beyond a single verdict. Even after the entire world witnessed George Floyd’s life taken on film, more Black and Brown people lost their lives at the hands of law enforcement. Just days ago, another Black man, Daunte Wright, was killed by a police officer just ten miles away from the courthouse where the Chauvin trial was taking place. A single verdict cannot bring justice for the Floyd family or the family of Daunte Wright who will forever shoulder the incomparable loss of a loved one.

"Real justice is living in a world where George Floyd and Daunte Wright are alive today and their killers never had the power to take their lives in the first place. Justice is dismantling the systems that endanger Black and Brown lives, transgender lives, Asian-American and Pacific Islander lives, and the lives of so many others part of communities who for generations have never felt safe – even in their own homes. Justice is intentionally working towards a world where someone’s life expectancy can’t be predicted by their zip code.

"Last year was a turning point as we saw the largest civil rights protest in recent memory in response to Floyd’s killing. It is my hope that today’s verdict serves as a turning point as well to finally acknowledging the historical and ongoing impact of systemic racism in communities across the country, and that we begin the work to see our neighbors as human beings worthy of the same rights and opportunities as the next person."I’m glad to see that after nearly a year, the Floyd family can rest tonight knowing George’s killer will be held accountable, but the system is guilty as well. Today, we must all commit ourselves to the work of achieving racial equity and bringing an end to the systemic forces that continue to devalue the lives of our fellow residents."

Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas

"Today, the American system of jurisprudence has spoken. With the verdicts in Minneapolis, many people at home and around our country are relieved. Let us thank those citizens who sat through weeks of testimony and fulfilled the role of juror, one of the highest tenets of citizenship. And let us all come to the realization in America that our work is not over until there truly is "justice for all."   

Milwaukee Police Department

"Over the past year, our community has experienced challenging times and great trauma since the death of George Floyd. Today, the Minnesota jury deliberated and rendered a fair and just verdict. Accountability for those in law enforcement who commit unlawful acts is real, and the Chauvin trial is a reflection of that.

"The Milwaukee Police Department will continue to work on enhancing police-community relations – especially in the Black and Brown communities, as well as refocus our training on de-escalation, procedural justice and appropriate police intervention. In partnership, we must move forward together on healing as a community.

"It is important for those who choose to exercise their First Amendment rights to do so lawfully and peacefully. It is incumbent on us all to keep each other, our loved ones and our property safe from harm and destruction.

"We are optimistic for a better 2021."

Joint statement of the Milwaukee Common Council

"Today’s verdict in the case of Derek Chauvin, in which he was found guilty on all counts in the death of George Floyd, is an important step forward for the Floyd family, the country and those around the world.We are happy that George Floyd’s family received justice for the egregious act that occurred last May, and this verdict represents hope and relief for many that have called for reform and increased police accountability during the last year.While this trial may have concluded, the work to truly reform our public safety systems is still ongoing. Far too many people from communities of color have lost their lives from interactions with law enforcement, and continue to face injustices throughout our policing and legal systems.We on the Common Council remain dedicated to enacting reform that benefits ALL residents and eliminates structural inequities. It will be a long road ahead, but one that we are committed to traveling down.So let us stand together today in recognition of this moment, and work together to build on this momentum moving forward."

Milwaukee Alderwoman Chantia Lewis

"You could hear a collective sigh of relief in the African American community today as the verdict was read. As a Black woman, married to a Black man, and with two Black boys, my heart was lightened a bit by the justice that was served with the guilty on all counts verdict for Derek Chauvin. Since we saw the events on that tragic day, hearts have been heavy, tensions have mounted, mothers clinch their children tighter, and many haven't had a restful night of sleep after witnessing the murder of George Floyd on that agonizing video. Hearts that were already heavy from years of Black men and women being murdered at the hands of officers. Justice has finally been served, where we weren’t hopeful it would be. Today, I feel like justice has finally been served, but the fight isn't over yet. We need to see increased training, qualified immunity removed, diversion programs, and more dollars allocated to prevention. Today was a day for justice, but much more work lies ahead for our nation, our state and our great city."

Milwaukee Bucks

"The Bucks organization is encouraged that justice was served by the Derek Chauvin verdict in the horrific murder of George Floyd. While this decision provides accountability to this police officer for his heinous crime, we must continue to address police officers’ excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging with people of color.

"Reoccurring examples of deadly use of force by police officers have become common place, including in our backyard of Kenosha, Minneapolis and so many other parts of the country.

"The Bucks organization remains strongly committed to addressing issues of police brutality, social injustice, and racism and continue to demand real change for African Americans and all marginalized members of our community. We hope this verdict offers a sense of justice to the Floyd family and our thoughts go out to them for their loss."

Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki

Archbishop Listecki is asking for the public to join him in praying for peace and unity in light of the verdict of the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis.

"In his letter to the Thessalonians, Saint Paul urges Christians to ‘pray without ceasing.’ Prayer must always be our first response, because God changes the hearts and mind of people."

Archbishop Listecki hopes the verdict will lead to healing in our community.

Racine Mayor Cory Mason

"Today, Derek Chauvin was brought to justice for brutally killing George Floyd in the streets of Minneapolis one year ago. It is a historic moment, as it is the first time in recent history that an on-duty officer has been held accountable for killing an unarmed black man. This lone verdict does not fix the institutional and systemic racism that exists in this country, but it does show that the justice system is capable of holding officers accountable when they choose to operate so clearly outside of their training. As a City, must continue the work of listening to community members and building a better, more just justice system. We remain committed to implementing the recommendations of the Mayor's Police Reform Task Force and will continue to build community trust and partnership with our own police department through our community-oriented policing model. While this is not justice for George Floyd - justice would mean that he was alive and with his family today - it is my sincere hope that this verdict brings some measure of peace and closure to his family and friends." 

Racine Common Council President John Tate II

"Moments ago, former police officer Derrick Chauvin was held accountable for the murder of George Floyd and found guilty on all three counts by a jury of his peers. This is a rare moment in the American justice system and fulfills the demand for accountability, but this is not justice. Justice is neither vengeance nor simple accountability. True justice is change -- transformation in such a way that the potential to commit harm is removed. 

What happened to George Floyd has happened to many others. Without fundamental, structural, and cultural changes in policing and our society that ensure that no officer’s abuse of power is defended or goes unpunished, abuses will continue. Derrick Chauvin is not an aberration. There are officers like him in departments across this country; and like the officers who testified against him, it is incumbent on the honorable officers to root out bad actors. 

It is my sincere desire that today’s verdict provides closure and solace for the Floyd family, and provides hope to the community to continue transforming our justice system and society so that we no longer need to remind others that Black Lives Matter." 

State Rep. Greta Neubauer (D-Racine)

"Last year, we witnessed the senseless, brutal, and terrible murder of George Floyd at the hands of former police officer Derek Chauvin. Today, Chauvin was convicted by a Minnesota jury. This verdict is the start of justice, but we cannot forget that in a truly just system, George Floyd would be alive today. 

"We cannot only seek justice in response to a tragedy — we must build toward a truly just system. We must change how we police, how we prosecute, and how we incarcerate. But also change how we invest in and strengthen our communities.

"My heart is with George Floyd's family, his friends, and his community. Today and every day, Black Lives Matter."

State Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee)

"On March 31st, 1968. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered one of the most memorable lines in a life that was full of them. "We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice." Some 53 years later, one could forgive Black Americans if they started to wonder if this sentiment had in fact proven to be untrue. As our nation, and indeed much of the world, erupted in protest for racial justice last year in numbers not seen since the 1960s, hope for real reform began to grow. But, as we have seen time after time, tragedy after tragedy, while the arc of the moral universe may be long, it doesn’t bend toward justice all on its own.

"It’s a reality that George Floyd experienced first-hand for the last 9 minutes and 29 seconds of his life, as Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck ‘til he died. Video of this tragic and brazen misuse of force by a man sworn to serve and protect has traumatized people of color, particularly young Black men, in a way that no white person can truly comprehend. 

"Today, the jury reached a verdict of guilty on all 3 counts in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin. It’s hard to call it justice when George Floyd will never see his family again, but at the very least the famed "blue wall" of silence has begun to crumble, and our justice system can work, even for those it has too often hurt.

"One positive verdict does not undo all the damage that’s been done. How does the United States reckon with its original sin of slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, and decades of bigotry and gaslighting from people and institutions that have continued to fail people of color in spectacular fashion? How do we create communities where all residents are equally respected and protected by the public servants who serve in their name?

"It starts with all of us being honest with ourselves, admitting our biases, and doing our part to dismantle the systems of oppression that have allowed white supremacy to thrive for over 400 years in this occupied indigenous land that makes up our shared country.

"It’s about embracing our humanity and rejecting any system or ideology that would seek to divide us and turn our neighbors into enemies. 

"With steps forward and stumbles backward, let us again rededicate ourselves to the purposeful improvement of our justice system, our country, and our sense of humanity. Today isn’t a finish line or a starting line, it’s a mile marker of progress in bending the arc slowly toward justice."

State Rep. Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh)

"George Floyd should be alive today. I am encouraged that the jury found Derek Chauvin guilty, but their finding does not bring George Floyd back.  It does not erase the loss for those who knew him, and the trauma for those for whom his death hits close to home.

"Today’s verdict must be followed by systemic change across our nation as we work for justice. As an elected official, I will continue listening to the Wisconsinites who are speaking out about their lived experiences in our state and I will continue working to reform the systems that perpetuate violence against people of color.

"Today, in a new legislative session, I again urge my colleagues to take action to address the systemic inequities that permeate our state and undermine confidence in our criminal justice system. These problems have not gone away, and leaders at all levels have a duty to respond. We must make change happen."

State Sen. Melissa Agard (D-Madison)

"Last year, the world witnessed the terrible murder of George Floyd. George Floyd’s murder was a senseless, brutal act of police violence against a Black man, the jury made the right decision in convicting Derek Chauvin with this murder. Regardless of the decision by the jury, George Floyd should be alive today-- no decision will provide true justice for Mr. Floyd.

"The overwhelming evidence was clear: George Floyd died due to Chauvin’s despicable actions. This was not a case of over policing, but blatant murder of a Black man in Minneapolis. Today, I am thinking of George Floyd’s family and friends and the greater Minneapolis area as we join them in continuing to heal from this reprehensible act of grave injustice.

"The murder of George Floyd is a symptom of a larger problem in America: Racism and discrimination continues to permeate every aspect of our society, and this epidemic is far, far from over. I am glad that the jury made the right decision today, and I hope that we continue to make steps towards justice and equity for our Black and Brown communities. We must continue to be determined in our efforts to dismantle racist systems and work towards national reforms and broad structural changes. This cannot be a talking point, we must do the hard and sometimes uncomfortable work to dismantle systemic racism in our country. We have a long road of real work ahead of us to ensure that no other families continue to endure this violence."

Milwaukee Urban League

"This decision by everyday Americans gives us hope that the justice system can work. There was too much fear and trepidation that accountability would not prevail today. This is a clear sign that major work still needs to be done reforming America's policing policies, especially in communities of color.

"Milwaukee Urban League stands ready to be part of those efforts to make sure justice and fairness happens throughout our city and country, not just in certain ZIP codes."

Darryl Morin, National President for Forward Latino

"We thank the jurors for their service and send once again our heartfelt condolences to the Floyd family. We pray that this will help them along their healing journey as they witness justice being served. While today is a victory for many in the social justice movement, it is a justice built on a tragedy. Far too many tragedies have been allowed to occur throughout a nation’s history and far too few have been held to account.

"Forward Latino supports every individual in law enforcement who uphold their sworn oath to defend, protect and serve all equally. Sadly, the ever-growing number of abuses captured on video demonstrates the scale of the issue before us and the need for reform.

"The State of Minnesota and the U.S. Federal Government provide members of law enforcement with unique authority and protections. Police are able to take the life of an individual if deemed necessary to protect themselves or the public without ever receiving the authorization of a judge and jury. Law enforcement also receives unique protections from liability that would befall all other Americans. With this immense authority and protection, comes tremendous responsibility. Individuals who abuse this unique authority, who betray the trust of the community they have sworn to serve must be held to account.

"Forward Latino is committed to working with the Community Coalition For Quality Policing, the U.S. Department of Justice, and Police Departments throughout the country to implement community oriented policing, revise archaic standard operating procedures, and to start the process of building trust between members of law enforcement, and those they are paid to serve. It is only when we all realize we are on the same team and work together, that we can reduce crime and improve public safety for all."

Citizen Action Wisconsin

"This murder conviction is a step forward and a great relief to everyone who cares about true human equality, but it must only be a start, not an exoneration of the system that made it possible," said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. "The downside is that the verdict required singling out one police officer while giving cover to the police department in Minneapolis (and others around the country) for the responsibility of a structurally racist system that does not truly respect Black life. The only real solution is an unwinding of the current systems of policing and mass incarceration and its replacement with a new balanced system that truly promotes community safety for everyone in America."

"The truth is, without the over policing of Black and Brown communities, the over funding of police departments compared to nonviolent interventions, and the social and economic investments needed in low-income and marginalized communities, George Floyd would not have had to fight for his life after being accused of a petty crime. This verdict does not change what we know to be true: the deadly official violence aimed at Black people in America will not end until we uproot the whole system, root and branch, and replace it with a system that equally values all human lives, especially Black lives and the many others that are devalued by our out of control system of policing and mass incarceration."

DNC Chair Jaime Harrison and DNC Black Caucus Chair Virgie Rollins

"This verdict is a step forward for accountability, but there’s still work to be done in the names of George Floyd, Daunte Wright, Breonna Taylor, and the countless others on a list that stretches far too long and reflects a pain that has become all too familiar for Black families in this country. The reality is that systemic racism must be eradicated. No one should be at risk in the United States because of the color of their skin. 

"We cannot wait another moment to do what is necessary to ensure a better, safer future for our children. The DNC recognizes that peaceful protest is an outlet for our cries for change. And the time for action is now: Republicans in the Senate must join Democrats to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which will fundamentally transform policing in America as it addresses implicit biases and racial profiling, curbs police brutality, and enforces accountability. Enough is enough."

Meghan Roh, Opportunity Wisconsin Program Director

"While we are glad that Derek Chauvin is being held accountable, true justice will never be served. True justice would mean George Floyd was alive and well today. From the northside of Milwaukee to the south shore of Lake Superior, we all want our families to be whole and our communities to thrive. However, our Black and Brown brothers and sisters are being murdered at the hands of the people entrusted to serve and protect those same communities. Opportunity Wisconsin stands in solidarity with our BIPOC partners across the Badger State in demanding our elected leaders reform a system that has abused and neglected Black and Brown people for far too long. The fight for racial justice is crucial to the fight for opportunity for every Wisconsinite."

Anti-Defamation League

"The jury’s decision to hold Derek Chauvin accountable for the murder of George Floyd is ​​​​a critically necessary first step in securing​#JusticeforGeorgeFloyd.

"And yet, no guilty verdict can change the fact that George Floyd -- and Breonna Taylor, Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, and too many others -- should be alive today. Our country's policing and criminal ​legal systems ​have targeted and devalued Black, brown, and Indigenous lives for centuries. The issue is much bigger than one traffic stop, one no-knock raid, one police shooting, one department, or one city.  It is long past time for our country to tackle systemic racism, reimagine what public safety looks like, and create transformational change to ensure justice and fair treatment for all people. Black Lives Matter, and our society's laws, practices, and institutions must reflect that."

Women’s March Statement

"Today, Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd. This is our criminal "justice" system at work. But it isn’t justice. Justice would be George Floyd still here with his family. Justice would be a country where no Black men or women die at the hands of the police — period. 

"That justice is out of reach without systemic change. Rooting out bad apples, even putting them in jail for murder, isn’t enough. Because the truth is this: cops like Derek Chauvin, who killed George Floyd and too many people before and after him, aren’t an aberration. They’re a manifestation of a system functioning exactly as it was designed to. 

"Police have killed at least three people — every single day — since this trial began. More than half of those killed were Black or Latinx. No band-aid measures will bring them back; neither will hollow calls for reform. Policing in America is a system that is rotten and racist to its core. And it’s a system that must be dismantled and defunded. In its place, dollars must be reinvested and duties reassigned to the people and things that actually keep our communities safe. 

"We must fund the after-school activities, mental healthcare, food assistance, housing, and drug rehabilitation programs that people actually need to survive and thrive. We must replace the metal detectors and armed officers in our schools with nurses and social workers. We must take guns and tasers out of cops’ hands — especially when they supposedly confuse them in a crisis. We must create alternative emergency services that protect all of us from harm.

"Still, that isn’t true justice. There is no true justice in a world without George Floyd. But it’s how we get closer. Our entire organization is in solidarity with Mr. Floyd’s loved ones, the leaders and activists on the ground in Minneapolis, and Black people across this country. We are ready to fight — and we’re here to help shoulder a grief that is too immense for any person or community to bear."

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SEIU Local 1 president Tom Balanoff

"We are heartened to see the jury in the Derek Chauvin trial deliver a guilty verdict, but there is still more work to be done.

"Convicting Jason Van Dyke didn’t prevent an officer from killing Adam Toledo, and convicting Derek Chauvin today is bare-minimum accountability. Taking one bad officer off the streets still leaves in place a system that brutalizes Black and Brown people with impunity. George Floyd should still be alive today.

"SEIU Local 1 members across the Midwest will continue to fight to reimagine public safety and break down an unfair justice system that provides anything but. In this moment, we hope this verdict brings some measure of comfort to George Floyd’s loved ones."

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