MA lawmakers, police departments react to verdict of George Floyd’s murder trial

Political News

(WWLP) – Massachusetts lawmakers and police departments have released statements regarding the verdict of the George Floyd murder trial. 

Late Tuesday afternoon, a jury convicted Dereck Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, on all three charges against him in the murder of the unarmed 46-year-old black man. 

Chauvin, 45, was found guilty on all charges: second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. The second-degree murder count, the most serious charge, carries up to 40 years in prison. Statement from President Joe Biden below:

His bail was immediately revoked after the verdict was read out loud and was led away with his hands cuffed behind his back as cameras rolled.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker released a statement after the announcement saying nothing can reverse the pain, suffering, and agony of George Floyd’s family and friends, but the verdict does make clear that Chauvin was not above the law. His full statement is below:

State Senate President Karen Spilka said the verdict reached is a relief to many and a glimpse of hope for more accountability, and ultimately, justice.

The verdict reached in the Derek Chauvin trial has brought relief to many of us, and a glimpse of hope for more accountability, and ultimately, justice. This evening, I am thinking of George Floyd, the many friends and family who loved him, and the pain of their irreparable loss. I am also deeply grateful for the courage of the witnesses who testified against Chauvin, as well as the countless individuals who persisted in protesting for accountability over the past year.

Last year, we began the long process of answering calls for change by passing nation-leading legislation to improve equity, transparency, and accountability in policing in Massachusetts. I am proud of this accomplishment, but I am determined to do more. I will continue to call on the Massachusetts State Senate to be intentional in our policymaking, and view all legislation through the lens of racial justice in order to break down the systemic barriers that have unfairly burdened generations of Black and brown people. As Senate President, I am personally committed to the hard work that will be required of all of us to make our Commonwealth a more equitable and just place.

Senate President Karen E. Spilka

The Berkshire District Attorney’s Office said Tuesday’s verdict is a “start to eliminating the ingrained racism in the justice system that for too long has condoned and perpetrated state-sanctioned violence against black people.” Full statement below:

“We send our deep condolences to Mr. Floyd’s friends and family. This verdict is a start to eliminating the ingrained racism in the justice system that for too long has condoned and perpetrated state-sanctioned violence against Black people.

This verdict is more than holding one person accountable. This verdict is a defining moment of our generation that galvanizes a collective movement toward building a fair justice system that ensures safety for all of the people it represents.

We thank the prosecutors for their meticulous work in bringing former Officer Derek Chauvin to justice. We thank the reasonable officers who testified that Derek Chauvin’s actions were unjustified. We thank the numerous bystanders who bore witness and had the courage to speak truth to power. We thank the members of the jury for upholding and performing their vital role in the judicial system with grace.

Justice for George Floyd demands that we work to end the dehumanizing treatment of human beings in the justice system.”

Berkshire District Attorney’s Office

Shortly after the verdict, Massachusetts State Police announced they have “a coordinated multi-layered” plan to protect residents and property, as well as rights of “assembly/free speech.”

Gov. Baker also signed an order making up to 1,000 members of the Massachusetts National Guard available in the event that local officials request their assistance.

Attorney General Maura Healey added that although the jury made the right call in the “name of accountability,” it does not bring Floyd back. Healey commended her friend and colleague Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison stating that she knows he and his team prosecuted Derek Chauvin to the fullest extent of the law.

“Today, the jury made the right call in the name of accountability. The officer who murdered George Floyd and showed reckless disregard for the law has been convicted for his crimes. But accountability, in this case, does not bring George Floyd back. One verdict is not a solution, but it is a step forward and an opportunity for all Americans to do the hard and necessary work ahead. Today, I send my love to George Floyd’s family, to the millions who are part of this movement, and to Black Americans who experienced collective trauma and grief so acutely this past year and this past week. Accountability, in this case, doesn’t erase the fear and pain from centuries of injustices and institutional racism. It will take all of us to move forward and bring healing and the change we need. We must acknowledge racism and work to address the enduring structures that lead to social inequities and unconstitutional policing. Only then can we begin to heal and build unity. Anything less than that isn’t justice.

We owe gratitude to everyone who spoke out about George Floyd’s murder, the young woman who bravely filmed the video, the community and faith leaders who pressed for change, the police officers and civilians who courageously testified, and all who condemned Chauvin’s brutal acts.

I want to commend my friend and colleague Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. I know he and his team prosecuted Derek Chauvin to the fullest extent of the law. I know he will never stop fighting for justice and accountability. Let us honor George Floyd’s memory by waking up tomorrow committed to coming together—state and local officials, community leaders, and law enforcement—to address police reform, racial injustice, and systemic inequalities. And let us remember to incorporate spaces for healing on our journey forward.”

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey

The AG also urged for the passage of the George Floyd Justice Act of 2021, which aims to reform law enforcement agencies nationwide.

Below are additional tweets and statements by police departments, state and local lawmakers across Massachusetts on the verdict of the George Floyd murder trial.

MTA President Merrie Najimy and Vice President Max Page stated the following regarding the conviction of Derek Chauvin:

A measure of justice prevailed today in the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd. The Massachusetts Teachers Association is hopeful that this verdict sends a strong message about holding law enforcement officials and others in power accountable for their actions. For too long, our criminal justice system has upheld the systemic racism built into the way that policing occurs in Black and brown communities. And there is still much to be outraged about. A simple step forward should not feel so momentous. But Chauvin’s conviction is an important step toward the day when people of color are no longer brutalized with impunity on our streets. Every person deserves respect and dignity. We fight for this principle in our schools and colleges. We fight for it in our communities. Today’s decision inspires us to fight all that much harder.

Massachusetts Teachers Association

State Rep. Carlos Gonzalez said Derrick Chauvin being found guilty of murder on all charges grants George Floyd and his family the justice they deserve. 

This marks an important day for our country, and it shows that our justice system is capable of upholding the society that we aspire to be.

Though this is the end of the trial, it is far from the end of our striving to create a more just and equal world for people of all races, ethnicities, and backgrounds. Our work continues, and I look forward to listening and working with citizens across the Commonwealth in this shared mission.

Representative Carlos Gonzalez, Chair of Public Safety and Homeland Security

Heads of the University of Massachusetts also released a joint statement Tuesday night calling the verdict an “affirmation that Black Lives do Matter, and in particular the life of George Floyd.”

Our nation will long be haunted by the grotesque images of Mr. Floyd’s murder. This verdict is important for Mr. Floyd’s family, for the nation and for the rule of law. In a democracy, there is always a critical need for accountability, and the former police officer who bears primary responsibility for this unconscionable act has been held accountable. While this verdict provides a measure of relief, nothing will ever truly ease the burden the Floyd family bears or stem their pain, and we again extend our sympathies to Mr. Floyd’s family.

Each of our campuses is taking tangible steps to support students and their communities as our nation is suffering from a pandemic of violence directed against Black Americans, Asian-Americans, and communities of color in general. Just as our nation has mobilized to defeat the Covid 19 pandemic, we need to once and for all defeat the plague of racism and hate. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “This is no time for apathy or complacency … We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.”

Higher education’s role in seeking truth, justice and creating new knowledge is critical to the pursuit of a nation where communities of color live safely and free of racism and discrimination. In this moment, we re-commit to the cultivation of an anti-racist, just, and equitable economy and society for all.

UMass President Marty Meehan, UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy, UMass Boston Chancellor Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Mark Fuller, UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Maloney, and UMass Medical School Chancellor Michael Collins

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