PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been found guilty on all three counts, including second-degree murder, in the May 2020 death of George Floyd. Reaction to the guilty verdict was swift all over the country, with some celebrating, and others saying there is more to be done when it comes to equality and justice for all.
Those who Eyewitness News spoke with following the verdict all used the same word — relief.
“I don’t think it’s ever done,” Kareem Scott said.
For about an hour on an unseasonably warm afternoon, the world seemed to inhale and hold it.
“It sets a precedent, I think a really important one,” Cheryl Stearns said.
The verdict in the murder trial of Chauvin would certainly have an impact. With scenes from last May less than a year old, the city braced both literally and emotionally. But eventually…
“There’s a big sigh of relief and then joy,” Tami Sulistyo said.
Sulistyo and Stearns are visiting Philly from Minneapolis, where Floyd was killed and where the trial for his now-convicted killer took place.
“We can’t accept that kind of behavior. We have to have the same kind of justice for people of color as we do for white people,” Stearns said.
“We keep seeing the same things over and over and over again and I feel like his death was really sentimental but it’s about to really open up a new chain of different things because this is the first of many,” Mary Brooks said.
“For us to get that verdict it just made a lot of people happy,” Scott said.
Scott was glad for the feeling but not entirely confident that it will last.
“I think they might get an appeal and if they get an appeal it’s just up to the people to keep fighting and keep the movement going, don’t let it stop,” Scott said.
Many who Eyewitness News spoke with say relief comes not necessarily from the trial being over, but comes from what it has now started.
Local leaders in the Philadelphia area took to social media following the verdict.
Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement “today brings us one step closer toward justice.”
“Today brings us one step closer toward justice. This verdict marks the moment we, as a nation, can begin the process of healing and unifying. It’s time to implement real and sustainable change to end racism, intolerance and police brutality against Black and Brown Americans. We must do this for George Floyd—and for all the generations of Americans who have been victimized because of the color of their skin,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement. “Still, we grieve for George Floyd. The verdict doesn’t change the fact that he should be alive today, and should at this very moment be enjoying his family and his freedom. He was robbed of that by an officer who had sworn to protect and serve but instead carried out a heinous murder. So in George Floyd’s memory, in his honor, let us make this our moment to change our future, to build communities of respect and understanding. Because Black lives matter—not just in words and in our thoughts, but in our actions.”
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw released a statement, saying:
“On May 25, 2020, the world witnessed the death of a citizen at the hands of police. This disturbing act not only ignited the long-suppressed emotions of thousands of people across the country, it stirred up the hurt felt by Black and Brown citizens who have been victimized and minimized for hundreds of years in the United States.
“Watching the actions (and inactions) of officers at the scene of his death has been enraging and devastating. As a mother, the loss of a child, no matter their age, is a hurt that I hope I never experience. My heart goes out to George Floyd’s family in their time of grief. This verdict will not bring their son back, but I hope they will find some comfort knowing that justice was indeed served.
“As a law enforcement official, I find the behavior that took George Floyd’s life abhorrent. After his death, the PPD, in conjunction with the Mayor’s office, worked on a set of reforms to improve police responses when using force and to improve trust within our community. Among those changes were immediately reporting any use of force over police radio, the banning of certain holds–particularly those that restrict or compromise an arrestee’s breathing, and the Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement (ABLE) program.
“Although a verdict was reached today, I ask for calm. I ask for peace. Let us use this time to reflect on our justice system, what reforms have taken place, and the work still left to do.”
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said “today’s conviction is one step of accountability on a long road toward justice.”
“The failures of our system haunt our country’s history, from Dred Scott to Rodney King to Trayvon Martin, but we can write a new chapter,” Shapiro said. “The mandate of equal justice under the law must be fulfilled each day and in each case. Let us resolve to continue our collective efforts to combat structural racism, in all its forms, and in all institutions so that we may achieve real and lasting justice. My heart is with all Americans experiencing pain and trauma tonight, and with the Floyd family, who will spend their lives missing George Floyd — their dad, their brother, and their friend.”
Today’s conviction is one step of accountability on a long road toward justice. The failures of our system haunt our country’s history, from Dred Scott to Rodney King to Trayvon Martin, but we can write a new chapter.
— Josh Shapiro (@JoshShapiroPA) April 20, 2021
“Today’s conviction in the trial Derrick Chauvin is a powerful moment of justice for George Floyd, his loved ones, and millions of America who saw this tragedy unfold with their own eyes,” Councilman Malcolm Kenyatta said in a statement. “It has sadly been a rare occurrence in American history for an abusive and criminal police officer to be held accountable for murdering a Black person, and I hope today’s verdict sends an important message that no one is above the law. But regardless of today’s verdict, our work to dismantle systemic racism at every level of our society – especially the criminal justice system – is far from over. Every day, Black and brown people continue to be unfairly targeted by police and have to worry about whether their lives are at risk simply for existing. We have to come together to acknowledge and fight back against the discrimination and violence being faced by communities of color every day and push for necessary reform in every police department from coast to coast.”
Today’s conviction in the trial Derek Chauvin is a powerful moment of justice for George Floyd, his loved ones, and millions of America who saw this tragedy unfold with their own eyes.
— Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (@malcolmkenyatta) April 20, 2021
“Black Lives Matter. Always,” Councilmember Helen Gym tweeted.
Black Lives Matter. Always.
— Helen Gym (@HelenGymPHL) April 20, 2021
“George Floyd should still be alive today,” Councilmember Jamie Gauthier said. “I hope today’s verdict brings his family and loved ones some measure of peace. The guilty charges mark an important step for police accountability — but there’s still a very long way to go to end systemic racism in this country.”
George Floyd should still be alive today. I hope today's verdict brings his family and loved ones some measure of peace.
The guilty charges mark an important step for police accountability — but there's still a very long way to go to end systemic racism in this country.
— Councilmember Jamie Gauthier (@CouncilmemberJG) April 20, 2021
Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor John Fetterman says the “Fact that this verdict is surprising shows how rare it is to achieve some sliver of justice in our deeply flawed system.”
Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd. He was clearly guilty.
The fact that this verdict is surprising shows how rare it is to achieve some sliver of justice in our deeply flawed system.
— John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) April 20, 2021
“Guilty guilty guilty. Some justice has been served today. God bless Mr. Floyd,” New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. tweeted.
Guilty guilty guilty. Some justice has been served today. God bless Mr. Floyd.
— Bill Pascrell, Jr. (@BillPascrell) April 20, 2021
Professional athletes also took to social media following the guilty verdict.
The Sixers’ released the following statement:
“Today’s verdict, which found Derek Chauvin guilty of all charges in the murder of George Floyd, represents a step towards accountability. While the outcome of the trial may deliver a sense of relief, it will not bring back the life that was tragically taken. We know that full justice will only be achieved with systemic change.
Our thoughts are with Mr. Floyd’s family and friends and extend to all those affected. Last year, many of us made a pledge to address systemic racism. Now, more than ever, we must reaffirm our commitment to that fight. There is still so much more work to do.”
“Justice was served today! Thank you God,” Eagles’ Rodney McLeod tweeted. “My heart is still with George Floyd’s family and friends. We can not let this end here, it is far from over. More work must be done!”
Justice was served today! Thank you God. My heart is still with George Floyd’s family and friends. We can not let this end here, it is far from over. More work must be done!
— Rodney McLeod (@Rodney_McLeod4) April 20, 2021
“I can’t believe what I just saw,” former Eagles wide receiver Torrey Smith tweeted. “They finally got one case right. GUILTY!!! Prayers up for the Floyd family.”
I can’t believe what I just saw. They finally got one case right. GUILTY!!! Prayers up for the Floyd family.
— Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) April 20, 2021
The NBA released a statement on Twitter.
NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released the following joint statement today: pic.twitter.com/r0XQkLssOb
— NBA (@NBA) April 20, 2021