Area and statewide political leaders reacted to the guilty verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin Tuesday.
Chauvin, 45, was convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd in May 2020.
A video of the arrest included the 16-year police veteran’s kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, which led to his death and touched off often-violent protests nationwide.
A posting on the Newton County Democratic Party’s Facebook page stated, “Maybe, just maybe, progress can be made. We have a long way to go.”
U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, said “justice has been served” after the jury returned a guilty verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
“The prosecution scored a slam dunk and the jury agreed,” said Johnson, who represents Georgia’s 4th Congressional District that includes part of Newton County.
“As prosecutor Jerry Blackwell said during closing arguments, ‘While some believe George Floyd died from an enlarged heart, he actually died because ex-officer Derek Chauvin’s heart was too small.’
“While today we recognize that justice was served, one case will not change broken-taillight policing in Black and brown communities.
“We must continue our work to reform the police and pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. As members of Congress, we must continue to advance reform of our criminal justice system and pass police accountability legislation.
“We must act now to halt the brutal injustice of police misconduct, the taking of lives, or George Floyd will have died in vain.”
Newton County's other congressman, 10th District U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Greensboro, said the aftermath of the trial "is a crucial moment for America."
"We need to move forward as ONE united people. America needs healing, and we must restore our faith and love in both God AND our fellow citizens," Hice wrote on Facebook.
"I condemn all hatred and violence, and I urge colleagues from both political parties to do the same. We are Americans, and there is far more that unites us than divides us. We cannot allow our political differences to cause irreparable division in society.
"As we go forward, beware of those politicians, media figures, and movements who manipulate the facts and exploit our emotions to further their agenda," Hice said.
District 43 State Sen. Tonya Anderson, D-Lithonia, who heads the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, said, “The Georgia Legislative Black Caucus appreciates that justice was served (Tuesday) with Derek Chauvin being found guilty on all three counts for the death of George Floyd.
“We pray the family and friends of Mr. Floyd can find a modicum of peace and closure,” said Anderson, whose district includes part of Newton County.
“Yes, as Black lawmakers we are not satisfied with one victory when this month, 20-year-old Duante Wright was killed just 12 miles from Minneapolis and 13-year-old Adam Toledo was killed last week in Chicago, both by law enforcement officers.
“We have a collective responsibility to reform law enforcement and the criminal justice system. Freedom and justice do not belong to a few, but to all who call this beautiful country home. The work continues,” Anderson said.
U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., said, “George Floyd's murderer has been convicted, but brutality and racial bias will persist in our justice system until we enact reform."
“I am urging my colleagues in the Senate to pass criminal justice reform that will ensure public safety, rebuild trust between communities and law enforcement, and secure equal justice for all.”
U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., said, “First and foremost, I’m thinking about George Floyd’s children and his family, and I’m thankful that they received something that approaches justice today after the trauma they’ve endured — one we’ve seen visited upon Black people and communities of color time and time again, and that never becomes less painful.
“Today’s verdict affirming Derek Chauvin’s responsibility for killing George Floyd is the right outcome in this trial, but it is not justice for George Floyd, who should still be here with us, nor for his family and community, who have suffered an immeasurable loss.
“We know that there cannot be healing without justice, and likewise, we still have much work to do in the Senate not only to create true justice that prevents more senseless killings of Black people, but to push our system closer to our ideals of equal protection under the law.
“That’s why reforming policing on the federal level is so imperative, and why Congress must pass legislation like the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act that will help end this cycle of violence and bend the moral arc of the universe closer to justice.
“As a voice for Georgians in the Senate, and as a Black man, I hope today’s verdict is the beginning of a turning point in our country where people who have seen this trauma over and over again will know it is possible to have equal protection under the law. And in the meantime, I’m going to continue pushing with everything I can to make sure our federal government honors people’s humanity and recognizes their citizenship—whether it’s at the polls, or during their interactions with police.”