By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
Former President Barack Obama joined the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the NAACP, the National Urban League, and others to applaud the guilty verdicts in the Derek Chauvin case.
For almost a year, George Floyd’s death under the knee of a police officer has reverberated around the world – inspiring murals and marches, sparking conversations in living rooms and new legislation.
Obama noted that a more basic question has always remained: would justice be done?
“In this case, at least, we have our answer. But if we’re being honest with ourselves, we know that true justice is about much more than a single verdict in a single trial,” the former president stated.
“True justice requires that we come to terms with the fact that Black Americans are treated differently, every day. It requires us to recognize that millions of our friends, family, and fellow citizens live in fear that their next encounter with law enforcement could be their last. And it requires us to do the sometimes thankless, often difficult, but always necessary work of making the America we know more like the America we believe in.”
The 44th president continued:
“While today’s verdict may have been a necessary step on the road to progress, it was far from a sufficient one. We cannot rest. We will need to follow through with the concrete reforms that will reduce and ultimately eliminate racial bias in our criminal justice system. We will need to redouble efforts to expand economic opportunity for those communities that have been too long marginalized.
“And as we continue the fight, we can draw strength from the millions of people — especially young people – who have marched and protested and spoken up over the last year, shining a light on inequity and calling for change. Justice is closer today not simply because of this verdict, but because of their work.”
NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., said the trade association welcomed the verdict.
“The unanimous verdict is a step in the appropriate direction to dismantle American Apartheid and racism that continues to be clearly manifested by racially-motivated police brutality,” Chavis added.
“The Black Press of America has always stood for equal justice. Today, we reaffirm the importance of the Black Lives Matter Movement and the necessity for the Black Press to continue to be an advocate for freedom, justice, and equality.”
Derek Johnson, the president and CEO of the NAACP, noted that “justice has landed Chauvin behind bars.” However, Johnson cautioned that “we will not rest until all in our community have the right to breathe. The chapter on Derrick Chauvin may be closed, but the fight for police accountability and respect for Black lives is far from over.”
Congressional Black Caucus Chair Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) also applauded the jury for finding Chauvin guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.
Chauvin was immediately handcuffed and taken into custody. He faces a 40-year prison term when sentenced in two months.
“Justice has prevailed, but that’s not always the case. So, while I am relieved that Derek Chauvin has been found guilty of murdering George Floyd, I will continue to say the names and fight for all those who have died or been injured senselessly by law enforcement,” Congresswoman Beatty stated.
“Breonna Taylor, Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, Andre Hill, Casey Goodson, Jr., Tamir Rice, and George Floyd should be alive, and no verdict will bring them back or undo the unimaginable heartache and loss their family, friends, and our communities have had to endure,” she uttered.
“However, I am hopeful that today will be the catalyst to turn agony into action because the American people are demanding transparency, accountability, and equal justice. Congress should listen too and pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.”
Floyd family attorney Ben Crump called the process of getting justice for Floyd painful.
“The verdict goes far beyond this city and has significant implications for the country and even the world. Justice for Black America is justice for all of America,” Crump declared.
“This case is a turning point in American history for accountability of law enforcement and sends a clear message we hope is heard clearly in every city and every state. We thank Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and his team for their fierce dedication to justice for George. But it does not end here. We have not forgotten that the other three officers who played their own roles in the death of George Floyd must still be held accountable for their actions, as well.”
In a statement from National Urban League President Marc Morial, the organization called the verdicts a potential turning point.
“Just as the viral video of George Floyd’s brutal death marked a turning point in the nation’s tolerance for racially motivated police violence, we are hopeful that today’s verdict marks a turning point in holding police accountable,” Morial remarked.
“With this verdict, the jury has made an unambiguous declaration that unwarranted use of force against Black people by police is a crime and that Black Lives Matter.”
The statement continued:
“Criminal prosecutions of police officers for misconduct, even fatal misconduct, are extremely rare, and convictions are rarer still. A major reason why is the so-called blue wall of silence, which suffered a major blow in this case when Chauvin’s former fellow officers took the stand against him. While truthful testimony is the very least we should expect from law-enforcement officers, we are nonetheless encouraged by the role their actions played in securing this conviction.”