Wisconsin leaders react to Derek Chauvin guilty verdict

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) --- Former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd on Tuesday, April 20.

Floyd died last May after Chauvin, a white officer, pinned his knee on or close to the 46-year-old Black man's neck for about 9 1/2 minutes. 

The jury deliberated about 10 hours over two days in a city on edge against another outbreak of unrest.

Wisconsin leaders have since been reacting to the guilty verdict.

Wisconsin Governor 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.”

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said activating for change is essential for Milwaukee, and that the city will focus on improving law enforcement culture. 


You can read Mayor Barrett's full statement below:

“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 Sheriff Earnell R. Lucas 

Sheriff Lucas said our work is not over until there is truly justice for all.

“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.”      

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin

Senator Baldwin said justice has been rightly served. 

“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 Attorney General Josh Kaul 

Kaul said Tuesday's verdict means there will be accountability and he hopes a measure of healing. 

“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.”

Congresswoman Gwen Moore

Moore said work for change is far from over, and encourages the community to continue fighting for change. You can read her full statement below:

“The world watched George Floyd’s final moments and refused to look away. Communities around the country and the world demanded change.

My heart continues to go out to the Floyd family, and I hope that jury’s decision today gives them some comfort. But the pursuit of justice and real reform to restore trust between communities and police must continue. No more Black men or women must lose their lives.

In my 70 years of life, I have seen justice denied too many times. I realized I had to use my voice, my power, to create change in Milwaukee. I was once a young activist who cut classes to join Vel Phillips and Father Groppi in the streets to call for fair housing in Milwaukee. I remember protesting with my son after the killing of Ernest Lacy and then years later, calling for change after Dontre Hamilton’s death.

Systemic change takes consistent time, effort, and organizing. Our work is far from over, we must continue fighting for change outside of that courtroom to improve our communities.”

Milwaukee Bucks

The Milwaukee Bucks released a statement Tuesday saying they are encouraged that justice was served. The team also said they remain committed to addressing issues of police brutality. You can read the full statement below: 

"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 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 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."

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."

Alderman Russell W. Stamper, II and Alderman Khalif J. Rainey

"Today’s decision in the Derek Chauvin trial was the right one, and our hearts and prayers are with George Floyd’s family and friends. Our sincere hope is that this guilty verdict can bring them some relief after what has been a difficult year.   

Today’s decision is also about accountability, and we expected nothing less. This is a step toward complete and equal justice for Black people in our country, and increased accountability for police officers in the judicial system going forward.  

Since George Floyd’s death last May one thing has been made incredibly clear – the people have power. Those who marched in the streets made this happen. All those who spoke out about the injustice of police brutality made this happen. Let them and us never return to being silent so we can continue to make lasting change."  

Racine Common Council President John Tate II

Tate released the following statement regarding the verdict in the Chauvin case for the murder of Floyd:

“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.” 

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