Nation Responds to Guilty Verdict for Derek Chauvin

Derek+Chauvin+is+found+guilty+for+the+murder+of+George+Floyd+on+Tuesday%2C+April+20.+%28Courtesy+of+Twitter%29

Derek Chauvin is found guilty for the murder of George Floyd on Tuesday, April 20. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Haley Daniels, Contributing Writer

On Tuesday, April 20, Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer who murdered George Floyd on May 25, 2020, was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

The murder of 46-year-old George Floyd took place after a convenience store employee called 911 and told the police that Floyd had bought cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. Chauvin placed his knee on Floyd’s neck for at least eight minutes and 15 seconds, as seen in video footage.

Directly after Floyd’s death, Chauvin was fired and charged with third-degree murder and two second-degree manslaughter charges. Hennepin County prosecutors added the more serious second-degree murder charge a few days later. 

In Minneapolis, many citizens felt relieved to learn of Chauvin’s guilty conviction. Still, they knew that there would be a perpetual fight to restore justice for the Black community. Tomme Beevas said, “The whole city took a collective breath just knowing that at least we have a small victory in the larger war, right? And then the next day, we all got ready because we knew the journey would have to continue.”

On Tuesday, Minnesota Governor Tim Waltz released a statement following the decision. “Today’s verdict is an important step forward for justice in Minnesota,” said Waltz. “The trial is over, but our work has only begun. The world watched on May 25, 2020, as George Floyd died with a knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes.”

The verdict even initiated global responses. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau both commented on the case. Johnson wrote on Twitter that he was “appalled” by Floyd’s death and welcomed the verdict, while Trudeau “hailed ‘accountability’ but insisted the fight against ‘systemic racism’ must continue.”

Fordham University also responded to the news of Chauvin’s guilty verdict. Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of the university, provided a statement via email to the university community last Tuesday evening. 

“I am sure that many of us felt a deep sense of relief when the verdicts were read,” wrote Fr. McShane. “In spite of the fact that the verdicts have been rendered, however, nothing can bring George Floyd back. Therefore, Mr. Floyd’s family and loved ones and all who seek justice and lovingly affirm that Black lives matter still mourn his loss, and will do so for the rest of their lives.”

In the address to the Fordham community, Fr. McShane also reminded students and staff that the murder of another innocent man, 20-year-old Daunte Wright, recently occurred miles from where Floyd was killed. The continued pattern of this horrible outcome, he wrote, is unacceptable.

“I have often said to our community, and to our students, that they should be bothered by injustice,” wrote Fr. McShane. “As I acknowledge the great pain and suffering of the University community over Mr. Floyd’s death, I want to acknowledge that that suffering is most deeply felt among the Black members of the Fordham family. I hope that in the wake of this trial we can recognize in one another our common humanity, and the divine spark in everyone we encounter. I pray for justice in this moment, and for healing thereafter. It also reminds me/us of the work of anti-racism that we need to continue to promote forcefully and with full heart here at Fordham.”

On the same Tuesday evening that the verdict was handed down, 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant was killed in a police shooting in Columbus, Ohio. According to her family and reports from NPR, Bryant had called the police for assistance with a group of older teenagers that had allegedly threatened her with assault. The Columbus Police Department has not yet confirmed or disputed this claim. 

Video footage of the incident shows police responding to the scene and also shows Bryant holding a knife. 

Bryant’s murder coupled with Chauvin’s conviction has resulted in a reaction from Columbus citizens that echos those previously stated from Fr. McShane and the people of Minneapolis. “We were happy about the verdict,” said Kimberley Shepherd, a citizen in Bryant’s neighborhood. “But you couldn’t even enjoy that. Because as you’re getting one phone call that he was guilty, I’m getting the next phone call that this is happening in my neighborhood.”

According to WLWT, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki called the shooting “tragic” and said President Joe Biden had been briefed.