YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Justice for George Floyd was handed down Tuesday as a jury found police officer Derek Chavuin guilty in Floyd’s death.
Local and state leaders were quick to weigh in with their thoughts about the case and what it means, especially to communities of color.
Community leader Derrick McDowell said he hopes the verdict gives some peace to Floyd’s family.
“I pray that the family of George Floyd finds what they need out of this moment, whether that be peace or justice,” McDowell said.
While the verdict for many felt like a victory, McDowell says it is a moment that we must use responsibly.
“This moment still cost us a life. It’s a costly moment, and we can not afford to learn lessons in this nation as this cost repeatedly,” he said.
McDowell was glad to hear the guilty verdict read, but said he knows a guaranteed outcome isn’t always for sure, even as we all watched that same video of Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck.
“But as a Black man, I’ll be honest with you, there’s never a time that I believe irrefutable evidence will equal outcome that justice speaks to properly,” McDowell said.
Penny Wells, executive director of Sojourn to the Past, said it’s about more than hearing the guilty verdict, it is about the past year we’ve spent shifting conversations about what racism looks like.
“I think for a lot of white people who realize the privilege that they have, and they need to be aware of it, and they need to be aware of the racism that existed in this country and to do something about it,” Wells said. “This was just another piece in that movement that justice has been done and that people are standing up on TV right now and saying we are not going to let this happen again.”
Both Wells and McDowell agree that now is not the time to let this moment be forgotten.
“What’s next depends on how we interpret this moment. Again, we need a radical shift and a change,” McDowell said.
Local lawmakers also reacted to the verdict. Republican Senator Rob Portman said, ” justice has been served.”
Democrat Senator Sherrod Brown says Tuesday’s verdict must “be a turning point.”
Pennsylvania Congressman Mike Kelly, R-16th District, echoed that “justice has been served.” He went on to say that he is praying for the Floyd family.
“Our pledge of allegiance declares we are one nation under God that guarantees liberty and justice for all, and today justice was served. The defendant received due process and a jury of his peers determined he was guilty of murdering George Floyd. I respect that decision and admire our judicial system for carrying out a fair trial under the rule of law. Now I pray the Floyd family can find peace, and that our nation can move forward to heal.” –Congressman Mike Kelly
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, himself a former prosecutor, said “our system worked.”
A jury in Minneapolis has spoken by convicting Derek Chauvin of second and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd. Our system of justice worked. The jury members listened to both sides, weighed the evidence, and came to this verdict. As we go forward as a nation, we must learn from the tragic death of George Floyd.Ohio Governor Mike DeWine
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said justice was served but that “we are living in a broken system.”
Today, we have seen justice for George Floyd. But we must acknowledge that we are living within a broken system. We know that one verdict will not, by itself, change the course of our nation. But this verdict was made possible by the bravery and ceaseless advocacy of people who stood up and called for change, and it marks a turning point. Thank you to all of the community leaders and advocates who called for justice and refused to be silenced. The work of changing policing, of fighting for racial justice, of ending centuries of discriminatory and traumatic policymaking, is hard and painful. It is also, above all, necessary. As we reflect on the memory of George Floyd, and all those who came before and after him, we can celebrate a measure of peace, knowing that justice has been done today. Tomorrow, we must reaffirm our commitment to doing the hard work to address injustice and inequality in every community across the nation.Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf