Derek Chauvin is guilty of killing George Floyd. A jury convicted the White former Minneapolis cop who knelt on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes, killing him and sparking a year of reckoning about US policing and how it is applied differently to Black Americans.
A unanimous and diverse jury needed just 10 hours of deliberations to hand down its verdict — guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Chauvin won’t be sentenced until June, but he will go to jail now.
The conviction of a police officer for killing a Black man, so rare in this country, offers some justice right now to Floyd’s family and the millions in the US and around the world who mobilized after seeing video of his death.
President Joe Biden spoke to George Floyd’s family after the verdict and before he addressed the nation. “Nothing can ever bring their brother, their father back. But, this can be a giant step forward in the March towards justice in America,” he said in brief remarks from the White House.
“That’s what justice looks like,” CNN commentator Van Jones said after the verdict was read. “When people — all we want is the police to obey the law. We’re not asking for anything but that, for the police to obey the law, and when they break the law they should have handcuffs just like anybody else. We don’t want them to be below us or beneath us; they should obey the law. That is what justice looks like.”
People across the country, most particularly Minneapolis, had been on edge, fearing that despite overwhelming evidence, Chauvin could be acquitted.
The conviction has the feel of a historical turning point. “You have 60-plus years of this type of brutality. Emmett Till didn’t get justice. Rodney King didn’t get justice,” said Jones, pointing to previous trials of White crimes against Black men that ended in acquittals.
The long arc of justice — from Till to Floyd — is one that has received a lot of attention. The Till and Floyd families have bonded over their shared tragedies.
Jones also noted the protest movement helped lead to this conviction. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison felt the need to take over the case from local prosecutors.
Hit record. Speaking after the verdict, Ellison praised, in particular, the people who had stopped to raise their phones and record Floyd’s death. “They stopped and they raised their voices because they knew what they were seeing was wrong,” he said.
Much more to do. Vice President Kamala Harris was asked about the case earlier Tuesday by CNN’s Dana Bash.
“This verdict is but a piece of it,” Harris said, before the verdict. “And it will not heal the pain that existed for generations, that has existed for generations among people who have experienced and firsthand witnessed what now a broader public is seeing because of smartphones and the ubiquity of our ability to videotape in real time what is happening in front of our faces. And that is the reality of it.”
Momentum for change is real. “This is a moment we can’t waste,” said the former DC and Philadelphia Police Chief Charles Ramsey, pointing to police reform efforts around the country. “There has to be reform, and we can’t take a deep breath and say this is over. This is all one case. It’s tragic, but it’s one case. There’s a lot that still needs to be done, and I hope we don’t lose sight of that.”
Ramsey called the verdict “the right verdict” after it was read and said that while he was proud of the 50 years he’s spent in law enforcement, this is the moment to seize change. He expressed disappointment that Biden is not choosing police reform as his next major priority to push in Congress.
The right verdict. Before a verdict had been handed down but after the jury was sequestered, Biden let fly with his opinion of the trial.
“It’s overwhelming, in my view,” Biden said in the Oval Office, where he was meeting with Hispanic lawmakers, referring to evidence in the case. “I wouldn’t say that unless the jury was sequestered.”
Biden said he was praying for the “right verdict,” crossing the judge in the case, who had warned elected officials Monday against sharing their opinions.
On one hand, there’s no question what in Biden’s mind the right verdict was. He referred to “overwhelming evidence” — the video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes — and he knew that the state of Minnesota and cities across the country could witness violence from angry protesters if Chauvin were not convicted.
On the other hand, the President has got to respect the judicial system and, rather than fire protesters up, calm them down.
Police reform, voting rights, gun control. With Washington frozen, states are the places where policy is happening. Democratic Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed new legislation imposing modest new restrictions on gun owners.
Vaccinations are going bonkers. Covid cases keep rising. From CNN’s report: Experts say there are several reasons for the rise in these numbers, including dangerous coronavirus variants — such as the more contagious B.1.1.7 strain that has helped fuel another surge in Michigan. Pandemic fatigue and more Americans moving around have also likely contributed to the rise.
Magic trick: Both coal industry groups and climate change advocates back infrastructure plan. CNN’s Matt Egan: “After four years of former President Donald Trump trying and failing to revive coal country, there is now an acknowledgement within the industry that more pain is coming — and new ideas are needed to blunt the damage.”
Somewhat nativist. Former President George W. Bush is no longer an active politician.”I am just an old guy they put out to pasture. Just a simple painter,” he said on the “Today” show Tuesday, hawking a new book of paintings of immigrants.
But he does have some issues with the party he used to lead.
“I would describe it as isolationist, protectionist and, to a certain extent, nativist,” he said, pushing Congress to tone down the rhetoric to pass a comprehensive immigration revamp, which has been an unachievable goal on Capitol Hill since his fellow Republicans used the filibuster to kill a version he supported back in 2007.
Bush, who has raised his voice at times since 2017, joins Republican former House Speaker John Boehner, who is also selling a book and also raising concerns about his party.
Donald Trump Jr. has a new role. From CNN’s Gabby Orr: “In the months since Trump left Washington, Trump Jr. — who never worked in the White House and is undeniably the most conservative member of the Trump family — has been steadily influencing his father’s political instincts. Aides describe their relationship as notably more affable than Trump’s ever was with Kushner, who has taken a break from politics.”