The conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on three charges related to the killing of George Floyd marks the end of a long saga that began on a Minneapolis street on May 25 last year.
But in another way, the conclusion of the trial -- with sentencing remaining -- could be only the beginning. The beginning, perhaps, of lasting change in our state and country. Maybe it will change police practices. Maybe it will change the level of confidence with which Black people are able to exist in the public sphere. Maybe it will lead to changes in our society's views of race. Maybe this tragedy, since it can't be undone, can still serve a lasting benefit.
What change do you hope for, resulting from George Floyd's death and the just outcome for the officer's crimes? Tell us, and we'll share your view. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some local reactions that immediately followed the April 20 verdict. See more reactions at PostBulletin.com.
Sara-Louise Henry, Rochester Public Schools equity coordinator
“It’s a delicate balance being part of the law enforcement community, but I would hope that the fellow officers that got into this line of work to see justice served, I would hope that they share the same sentiments.
The African American community and allies of our community were all holding our breath and were able to — even if it’s just for one night — breathe a sigh of relief. That at this one step justice was served.
It's sad that we have to celebrate justice being served when it should be expected. it's unfortunate that people of color don't have that expectation due to our experiences."
Dee Sabol, executive director of the Diversity Council
"It feels like the beginning of the pursuit of justice. We now have a toehold. We can start to pursue real justice in policing and in our criminal justice system. And find the space to make the changes we need, which go from the local level to the federal level.
I hope that people don’t feel removed from this. I hope people in rural Wisconsin, upstate New York, the west coast don’t feel removed from this. I hope everyone feels this is central to our existence and shared humanity."
City of Rochester statement
"The City of Rochester is striving to be inclusive, where all people are treated with dignity and respect. While the verdict reached today in the Chauvin trial brings about closure to a time filled with varying emotions, the pain, mistrust, and historical trauma by members of our community will continue to stay open.
The City of Rochester has much more work to do to ensure that our community is safe, open, welcoming and inclusive for everyone. We are striving to live out our professed values as a compassionate community, and acknowledge the lived experiences and pain that has and is being shared right now, especially by members of our Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) residents. Recent egregious acts, even not within our city, still activate memories of experiences members of our community have had themselves, in other places and within our city.
We stay firmly committed as an organization to listen, to learn, and to build trust across our city, with a concurrent pledge to action. To that end, the City has been and continues to undertake efforts to acknowledge and address inequity in Rochester, including the recently hiring of the first Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Director.
Although efforts have been underway in the City, we realize we have only just started the work that needs to be done. Our promise to the community includes committing to:
- Address racial inequality in local government through a commitment at all levels of the organization.
- Update all City policies, practices, and procedures using an equity lens.
- Create a better system for effective, responsive, and culturally sensitive engagement.
- The implementation of the Blueprint for Re-envisioning Rochester Police Department, which is a reflection upon and acknowledgement of the need for a cultural change within the law enforcement profession.
- Developing and implementing the first ever City of Rochester Equity Plan.
In order to stand with our entire community, we must acknowledge the pain, both lingering and fresh, being laid bare and caused by racial inequities across our state and country. As an organization and as part of the community, the City of Rochester is committed to standing with our BIPOC community and charting a path forward together.
We affirm the statement made by the City in 2020; We see you. We hear you. We support you."
William "Bud" Whitehorn, community liaison between RPD, Rochester's Black community
"We haven’t got to the point where we can change the level of trust in the justice system. At least today, we feel noticed. Today, the U.S. judicial system made a statement that maybe there’s hope."
Rochester for Justice
"Not happy nor sad. While the verdict was appropriate, the workaround ending the current system of community policing in its entirety with a complete paradigm shift should still be the focus."
Kim Norton, mayor of Rochester
Today justice was served for George Floyd. But the changes needed to assure fairness and justice for all Black people across the country will take sustained focus from all of us. #rochmn #communitypolicing #bethechange— Kim Norton (@MayorNorton) April 20, 2021
NAACP Rochester Branch
Yezi Gugsa, co-founder of the Rochester Initiative
"I did have doubts that the justice system was going to fail the black community once again. The anxiety I was feeling was the most anxiety I’ve felt in the last year.
We’re going to continue to fight for change and demand actions and new policing. We shouldn’t even be feeling that much doubt in our hearts. I hope that cycle can be broken."
Tim Walz, Minnesota governor
"Today’s verdict is an important step forward for justice in Minnesota. The trial is over, but our work has only begun.
The world watched on May 25, 2020 as George Floyd died with a knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Thousands of Minnesotans marched in the streets last summer in the wake of his death — inspiring a movement around the globe. While many of these people never met George, they valued his humanity. They knew what happened was wrong. They called for change, and they demanded justice.
A year later, Derek Chauvin has been found guilty of murder and faces years behind bars.
But we know that accountability in the courtroom is only the first step.
No verdict can bring George back, and my heart is with his family as they continue to grieve his loss. Minnesota mourns with you, and we promise the pursuit of justice for George does not end today.
True justice for George only comes through real, systemic change to prevent this from happening again. And the tragic death of Daunte Wright this week serves as a heartbreaking reminder that we still have so much more work to do to get there.
Too many Black people have lost—and continue to lose—their lives at the hands of law enforcement in our state.
Our communities of color cannot go on like this. Our police officers cannot go on like this. Our state simply cannot go on like this. And the only way it will change is through systemic reform.
We must rebuild, restore, and reimagine the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve. We must tackle racial inequities in every corner of society — from health to home ownership to education. We must come together around our common humanity.
Let us continue on this march towards justice."