A Minneapolis jury reached a verdict today in the murder trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, finding him guilty of second and third degree murder and second degree manslaughter of George Floyd.
Guilty, on all three counts – all charges.
Larry Hamm, People’s Organization for Progress founder and director, said, “The jury did a great job;
they did a great job with the charges presented to them. Had a civilian done that it would have been a 1st degree murder case, of course, however, those were not the charges given. I hope this legal victory will give energy and impetus to the struggle for justice in America.
“his does not in any way exonerate the justice system,” the lifelong Essex County-based activist added. “Before the sun sets tonight the police will kill somebody else – but this is still a step forward. We won a battle but the war for police reform still goes on.
“We’ll be having a rally tomorrow,” Hamm added.
Fellow Newarker state Senator Ronald L. Rice likewise applauded the verdict, while issuing an exhortation for social justice work undone.
“I think from the testimony coming from the experts and listening to the witnesses from the community it was very clear,” said Rice, referring to Chauvin’s guilt. “I don’t think there could have been any other result in this case. The prosecution did a good job. I thought it was the right decision. I’m glad they came to that conclusion. There would have been a lot of troubles in the country if they hadn’t, but I also believe it is a signal and a message to New Jersey that we have to push criminal justice reform, especially on the part of women and minorities. We have to get our act together. This is another signal to the Black and Latino caucuses to continue to push for the civilian review board and residency laws for law enforcement personnel.”
Rice has long expressed frustration over key pieces of police reform legislation dying in committee.
“I do think residency will be a plus, so law enforcement can live in the community to get a better sense of the human cry,” said the veteran senator.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said, “On behalf of all of Newark and our residents, we applaud the jury for its decision in the Derek Chauvin case and congratulate Minnesota’s prosecutors for their work in bringing it about. It sends a clear message that people who use the cover of the law to commit murder and violate people’s fundamental rights will be met with justice. Today, Black Lives Mattered, which means all of our humanity matters.”
The chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter, issued the following joint
statement on today’s verdict on the Derek Chauvin case:
“Justice was served today. This was heavy duty jury service in the name of justice for the senseless loss of George Floyd’s life. Our country and communities needed the verdict that was delivered today. This verdict sends a strong message that this behavior will not be tolerated and the status quo is no longer acceptable.
“Our work is not done,” she added. “We must keep pushing forward for systemic changes that allow for these egregious acts against persons of color to continue time and time again. This cannot continue to be the narrative of our people. We must continue to shine light in the darkest corners of a broken system to stem injustice everywhere. We must do this from wherever we are, peacefully, yet never relenting until justice for all is a reality. Justice must always prevail with the scales tipping on the side of fairness for everyone equally. “
“Justice was done by the speedy jury verdict,” said Joe Hayden, legal adviser to InsiderNJ. “There was no other reasonable verdict the jury could have returned under the proven facts. The prosecutor’s case was a rare combination of a video, which depicted the homicide, eyewitness testimony of people who tried to stop the homicide, medical testimony which showed the death was a homicide, and police use of force testimony indicating that the use of force was unjustified and resulted in a homicide. Given the verdict of homicide it was an automatic that bail would be revoked.”
Camden Mayoral candidate Elton Custis today released the following statement regarding the guilty verdict reached in Derek Chauvin’s trial:
“Today’s verdict is a victory for every black man in America that’s ever been unlawfully assaulted by law
enforcement. This verdict alone is not enough, however, to heal the wounds of racial discrimination that have plagued our communities for far too long. And it’s certainly not enough for the Floyd Family, who has lost a father, son, brother and bright light.
“America needs to use this verdict as a wake-up call for reforming how we police our communities and train and recruit law enforcement officers,” Custis added. “Today’s verdict may be a step in the right direction; however, it is not a victory lap for the black community.”
Tormel Pittman, a New Brunswick-based social justice activist who has marched from the beginning,
said he could not say today whether the jury delivered long-term justice.
“I have mixed emotions about whether or not this will give us police accountability,” Pittman told InsiderNJ. “Is it the new standard? There are a lot of questions that need to be answered. We will know in the future.
“The decision today gave a level of comfort to his family and the communities abroad – but justice? I can’t determine that,” Pittman added. “I think it was a level of peace and calm because if a provocateur wanted to act out, it would be of his own accord. There was peace given to his loved ones. There are still unwarranted killings- yesterday, today and maybe tomorrow. The movement needs to take a slight break to see where this will go instead of being reactive.
“Let’s see the direction law enforcement goes,” he said. “We won’t sum up justice in one case. Hopefully, this case here can give law enforcement agents the power to step out to hold one another more accountable before it spills out into the community. They should definitely use this case as a way of attacking a long-lived culture that affects us all.”
New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Colligan today released the following statement on the Derek Chauvin decision in Minneapolis:
“Today’s decision ends a very difficult time in our nation’s history. I said at the time last year that the actions in Minnesota were contrary to our training in New Jersey and does not represent who we are. This event ran counter to the deeds put forward by so many good men and women in law enforcement every single day. There are thousands and thousands of daily interactions in this country that we will never hear about. As always, we will continue to work through the challenges facing law enforcement today and continue to improve the service to our communities.”
Attorney General Gurbir Grewal hailed the verdict, but like Pittman said only time will tell if the case
makes a significant social impact.
New Jersey State Senator Joseph Cryan, Assemblyman Annette Quijano, and Reverend Reginald Atkins
(D-20) released the following statement:
“The tragic murder of George Floyd is a stain on our nation’s history and the 9 minutes and 29 seconds captured on video last May will serve as a constant reminder of not only an indisputable failing but also of a call for justice from communities everywhere. Today’s guilty verdict is an important one for the Floyd family and for so many across the country, as well as right here at home in Union County. Nothing can ever erase the tragedy that occurred in Minneapolis, but today is an important step forward for justice.”
“George Floyd changed the fabric of this country and this state. This case has forced the conversation –
once again – to the fact that Black people still live with injustice and fear. It is my hope and my prayers and my belief that this case will finally make a difference, the first key step in ending generations of systemic racism.”
The trial followed months of national protests for justice, including numerous rallies and marches in New Jersey, led by activists, including People’s Organization for Progress Founder Hamm, New Brunswick social justice leader Pittman, Mason Robinson and many others. Governor Phil Murphy himself took to the streets in Hillside, in the middle of his own lockdown.
Today he offered a statement in reaction to the verdict.
“George Floyd, like countless other Black Americans whose futures have been unjustly stolen from them, should be alive today. While today’s verdict provides some measure of justice and accountability for the Floyd family and millions of our fellow Americans, all of us must remember that systemic racism is still pervasive in American life. While we are glad that justice has prevailed in this case, George Floyd’s murder is a painful reminder that inequality has deep roots in American history, starting during slavery and continuing to the present day in areas such as wages, health care, housing, education, and treatment by law enforcement. This has been a trying moment in our nation’s history, but we must be resolute in our fight for justice to ensure that the pain of yesterday, and the pain of today, does not become the pain of tomorrow.”
“Today justice was served by the jury in the Derek Chauvin trial returning a verdict of guilty on all three
counts,” said Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop. “The sadness and loss that George Floyd’s family and friends feel will unfortunately never totally go away. That sadness is shared throughout our country and here in Jersey City.
Wearing a black mask emblazoned with a fist and the words “I can’t breathe” over his face, and a Yankees cap on his head, the brother of the late George Floyd marched with members of the Black Lives Matter movement and their allies, and to express opposition to the police brutality that extinguished his brother’s life on May 25th. “I want to give thanks to everybody out here showing love; everyone who came out here to show love,” said Terrence Floyd, who walked with New Jerseyans from Feaster Park to City Hall in downtown New Brunswick.
“I appreciate you all,” he added. “You know, Biggee [Smalls] said ‘spread love, it’s the Brooklyn way.’ Well, I’m saying ‘spread love, it’s the Floyd way.’ That’s what my brother was about. If he were here he would say, ‘I love you.’ All I’m going to say is the same thing. ‘I love you’ all – from white, black, brown – it don’t even matter. If you got love for me, I got love for you. I’m thankful to you all. Black lives matter but it needs to matter to us. It won’t matter to no one else until it matters to us.
“We’re not nig*rs,” Terrence Floyd said. “We’re not bi*ches. If one of your boys comes up to you and says ‘What up, nig*r?’ You don’t have to answer because that’s not who you are. You’re not a nig*r, you’re a king. You’re not a bi*ch, you’re a queen. If we call ourselves that, the other man is going to call us that too. It’s not just a statement, it’s a lifestyle. Love is love. Peace, everybody.”
Hamm and Baraka led a massive rally in Newark following the murder of George Floyd. Palpable righteous rage from behind the COVID-19 masks of hundreds filled the streets on May 30th in a battle-scarred New Jersey city, scene of the 1967 uprising spawned by police brutality, channeling westward on this hot Saturday, to Minneapolis, Minnesota – a hard sense of solidarity.
“Brothers and sisters, we can’t be divided,” said Larry Hamm, founder of the People’s Organization for Progress (POP) and a progressive candidate for U.S. Senate. “We’re here today to march for justice for George Floyd.
“We want our people in Minneapolis, Minnesota to know, we hear you in Newark, New Jersey.”
“This is not just about Floyd,” Baraka added. “This is about hundreds of years of lynching, abuse, of segregation of purposeful and deliberate systemic abuse, denial of housing. This arbitrary violence is outraging. Newark has been here before. Newark has been here before. I stood in protest with Larry Hamm as a boy, as a college student. I stood out in the rain with Larry Hamm. I fought for a civilian complaint review board.
“In 1967, Newark went up in flames for four days,” said the mayor. “Dozens of people died. The city was destroyed and we still are trying to recover from that today.”
“We can’t lose faith with this movement,” he said, standing in front of the historic Somerset County Courthouse. “We’ve got to continue to push. We’ve got to continue to fight. You saw what happened when we walked up and down these streets. They weren’t kind. They weren’t loving. We knew that. we know what’s going to happen. we’ve got to keep having faith and supporting one another.
“I love the fight,” Robinson said. “I appreciate the energy. You could all be home watching football; watching sports. But the lovely thing about sports right now is you can’t turn it on without seeing some type of Black Lives Matter movement. If they’re going to listen to us, we’re going to make some people feel uncomfortable.”
Following the guilty verdict tonight, North Plainfield Councilwoman Keiona R. Miller said:
“I’m not celebrating. A guilty verdict was necessary to maintain peace in communities across this country and also to provide a sense of justice for the family and friends of Mr. Floyd. And while I’m happy for them I remain deeply skeptical this evening of a system that allowed this type of injustice to continue throughout its history. I will celebrate when I see systemic change in policing and in the legislative and political structure that support it.”