The jury has found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of killing George Floyd, a Black man, after kneeling on his neck for several minutes.
The jury found Chauvin guilty on the charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for his role in Floyd’s death.
It’s unclear at this time whether Chauvin will attempt to appeal the decision, but legal experts consider it likely. A sentence for the guilty verdict has not yet been rendered.
The National Guard was deployed to the courthouse where Chauvin’s trial took place in anticipation of protests in response to Chauvin’s verdict, which some pointed out was itself an example of the very oppressive policing system to which protesters have been calling attention over the past year.
Though police are often able to avoid consequences for killing people, even if it’s on camera, activists warned against deeming the guilty verdict “justice,” which would in effect be celebrating the criminal legal system that has more often than not failed the very people most targeted by violent policing. A number of groups and activists issued a mix of emotions in response to the jury’s decision.
Reclaim the Block, an organization that describes itself as a “coalition to demand that Minneapolis divest from policing and invest in long-term alternatives,” reacted to the news with words about Floyd and Daunte Wright, another Black man who was killed by police this month in a suburb of Minneapolis.
“We love you George Floyd. We love you Daunte Wright. Our only wish today is that you were still here with us,” the organization wrote. “That’s our statement. That’s the work.”
We love you George Floyd.
We love you Daunte Wright.
Our only wish today is that you were still here with us.
That’s our statement.
That’s the work. pic.twitter.com/5dDESLGNrs
— Reclaim the Block (@reclaimtheblock) April 20, 2021
Freelance multimedia journalist Samanta Helou-Hernandez took note of the police killings that occurred over the past several weeks, writing that, “while this trial was happening, U.S. law enforcement killed 64 people, including a 13 year old.”
Remember: While this trial was happening, U.S. law enforcement killed 64 people, including a 13 year old.
— Samanta Helou-Hernandez (@Samanta_Helou) April 20, 2021
Many pointed out that a guilty verdict wouldn’t end a long-upheld culture of impunity for police officers. And in fact, during their closing statements on Monday, the prosecution took a pro-police stance, saying that, “this is not a prosecution of the police” and that policing is “a most noble profession.”
“We’ve known Chauvin was guilty since the second we saw him murder George Floyd on film — but we also know of the racism inherent in our carceral and policing systems,” tweeted Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-New York). “This verdict doesn’t change that racism, or the work ahead needed to transform those systems to serve us.”
“Our hope is that this verdict will be a small step towards accountability. But that’s just about accountability, not justice,” wrote Rep. Cori Bush (D-Missouri). “For us, justice would be George Floyd alive today.”
“Nothing will bring George Floyd back, and real justice can only be found when we make real investments in our communities, and move away from systems of state violence that destroy us.” pic.twitter.com/Wo7yIrjq3P
— Dream Defenders (@Dreamdefenders) April 20, 2021
Regardless of the guilty verdict, “it won’t do any more to deter other police from murdering people than the conviction of [Michael] Slager did,” wrote Bree Newsome Bass, an activist and artist, referring to the former South Carolina police officer who is serving a prison sentence for killing a Black man for running from a traffic stop in 2015.
Advocates have called, instead, for full police abolition in order to achieve true justice.
“[Former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim] Potter murdered Daunte Wright while the Chauvin trial was happening a few miles away. We need to defund and abolish policing,” Newsome Bass wrote.
“The grief and pain Black [Minnesotans] are experiencing will not go away with one verdict,” wrote former Minnesota state representative Erin Maye Quade. “We must dismantle white supremacy and build systems so every Minnesotan can live in safe and thriving communities, free from state violence and discrimination. That is justice.”