Central Ohio leaders react to guilty verdict in Chauvin case

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Leaders in central Ohio have shared their opinions on the guilty verdict reached by the jury in the Derek Chauvin case.

Chauvin is the ex-police officer who pinned George Floyd to the pavement with a knee on his neck in a case that set off a furious reexamination of racism and policing in the U.S.

Joyce Beatty, U.S. Congresswoman representing Ohio’s 3rd district, including Columbus, released the following statement:

“Justice has prevailed, but that’s not always the case. So, while I am relieved that Derek Chauvin has been found guilty of murdering George Floyd, I will continue to say the names and fight for all those who have died or been injured senselessly by law enforcement. Breonna Taylor, Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, Andre Hill, Casey Goodson, Jr., Tamir Rice, and George Floyd should be alive, and no verdict will bring them back or undo the unimaginable heartache and loss their family, friends, and our communities have had to endure. However, I am hopeful that today will be the catalyst to turn agony into action because the American people are demanding transparency, accountability, and equal justice. Congress should listen too, and pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.”

U.S. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty

Chauvin was convicted on all three counts with which he was charged.

The jury, made up of six white people and six Black or multiracial people, weighed charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, with convictions on some, none or all of the charges possible. The most serious charge carries up to 40 years in prison.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said our justice system worked in thius case.

“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.”  

“As we go forward as a nation, we must learn from the tragic death of George Floyd.”  

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman said it appears justice has been served with the verdict.

U.S. Congressman Tim Ryan, representing Ohio’s 13th District, said the rule of law prevailed with the guilty verdict.

“Today the rule of law prevailed on behalf of George Floyd, his family, and the people of Minneapolis. But while this verdict was a victory for Black and Brown Americans and for our country at large, true justice will not be found until we ensure there are no other George Floyds, Breonna Taylors, Eric Garners, or the countless other Black and Brown Americans who have unjustly had their lives cut short by those sworn to protect them.

“The problems we face are systemic and if we are going to make real and lasting change, the solutions will too need to be systemic. We cannot stop marching. We cannot stop speaking. Today should give us all hope that our justice system can work for every American — not just a select few — but now we must continue to demand progress so we can usher in true justice for all. This will take all of us to not only change our institutions but change ourselves and the way we see and treat one another.”

U.S. Congressman Tim Ryan

Ohio Attorney General David Yost said Chauvin “dishonored his badge and a noble profession.”

“What Derek Chauvin did to George Floyd is murder. He killed more than a man—he nearly killed the hope of justice. The jury called it murder, and restored that hope,” Yost said in a statement. “Chauvin dishonored his badge and a noble profession. That should weigh heavily in his sentencing hearing.”

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said the verdict was the “best outcome” in the case.

“This verdict is the best outcome following the tragic and unnecessary loss of life. It brings some measure of justice for those who knew and loved George Floyd, but it will not restore his life, nor will it erase the centuries of racial injustice that continues to plague our nation. As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’ Today the system worked, but we must build upon this moment to make change – together – and strive for justice and accountability in our own community.”

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther

Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin said that while the verdict will not bring back George Floyd or two other Black men killed by law enforcement, Andre Hill and Casey Goodson Jr., it does give him hope.

“Today’s guilty verdict doesn’t bring back George Floyd. It doesn’t bring back Andre Hill, Casey Goodson Jr., or those killed by law enforcement across our nation. But it does give us hope for accountability and better policing in the future. The bridges of trust are tenuous. However, we can rebuild them to ensure safety in all our neighborhoods.

“While this moment of accountability is a critical step in the march for equal justice, it doesn’t prevent the next unnecessary shooting or use of force. The path to lasting reform is to reduce the number of dangerous interactions between residents and law enforcement. We must find new ways to address mental health, substance abuse, homelessness, and nonviolent offenders. Our vision for an Office of Alternative Crisis Response is the necessary next step. We’ve asked law enforcement to do too much for too long, and truly reimagining public safety demands deep systematic change.

“There is a long road ahead, not only for me and my peers but also for the next generation of black children like my nephew Christian, growing up in Columbus, where too many view him as a threat instead of the beautiful human he is becoming. Tomorrow we start marching again to make Columbus’ safer for all the people of color and to show a nation how to truly be better at the promise of life, liberty and equal justice.”

Columbus City Council Shannon Hardin

The Columbus branch of the NAACP cheered the verdict but cited increasing cases of police brutality in the United States. The NAACP’s statement reads, in part:

The verdict rendered today finding former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all charges for the murder of George Floyd was the right one. Today’s outcome sends a clear message to law enforcement that they are not above the law. Their actions have consequences. George Floyd’s life mattered and he would be alive today had it not been for Derek Chauvin’s callous disregard for human life. Decisive action is needed to prevent the death of civilians.

The current process of holding police officers accountable is apparently not working. Instances of police brutality are steadily increasing and failure to render justice contributes to systemic racism.

Columbus branch of NAACP

Stephanie Hightower, president and CEO of the Columbus Urban League, said organization’s work for social justice and racial equality matters more today than ever.

Columbus City Council President Pro Tem Elizabeth Brown issued the following statement:

“In Columbus and across this country, we are all in search of safe communities for ourselves, our families, and our neighbors. But to achieve that, we must have a legal system that values and protects the lives of Black and brown people.

“Today’s verdict of Derek Chauvin’s guilt on all three counts was a step towards justice for George Floyd and his family, and I am sincerely hopeful that more accountability will help change behaviors and save lives in the future.

“At the same time, we still have a tremendous amount of work ahead to make systemic improvements to public safety — especially right at home in Columbus. I urge folks across our city to stay engaged in this work — peacefully, urgently, and deliberately.”

Columbus City Council President Pro Tem Elizabeth Brown

Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron), the minority leader in the Ohio House of Representatives, called the verdict a “tremendous step” forward, but that more needs to be done.

“Today, Derek Chauvin was held accountable for killing George Floyd,” Sykes wrote in a statement. “But true justice will prevail when Black Lives Matter. Justice will prevail when communities no longer fear the people sworn to serve them. Justice will prevail when we no longer have to ‘Say Her Name.’ Justice will prevail when liberty and justice for all means for ALL.”

Columbus Public Safety Director Ned Pettus issued the following statement:

This verdict is a critical step toward justice for the family of George Floyd. For all who see themselves or their loved ones in George Floyd- for all who say, “that could have been me, that could have been my son or my brother,” this verdict is vindication that your lives matter. Your lives have value. And you deserve equal protection and equal justice under the law.

Ned Pettus, Columbs Public Safety Director

The Franklin County Board of Commissioners called the verdict a “hopeful sign that times may be changing.”

Today’s verdict in Minnesota is a hopeful sign that times may be changing.  It is definitely a sign that Americans are no longer satisfied with the old system in which the police can often not be held accountable regardless of the circumstances of the case.

We believe that there is a way to write laws and police contracts so that law enforcement have the tools they need to do their important jobs while still being accountable to the public they serve.  We will fight for those changes in every place that we can, and we applaud the hard work and sacrifice of the many who have long fought to change this system for the better.

Franklin County Board of Commissioners

Ohio Democratic Party Chairwoman Liz Walters issued the following statement:

“While the jury reached the right decision, no verdict will change the fact that George Floyd should still be alive today. We all have much more work to do in the fight for racial justice and for a fairer legal and criminal justice system. Our hearts are with Mr. Floyd’s family and loved ones, as well as with Ohioans who have been hurting as we watched this trial unfold.” 

Ohio Democratic Party Chairwoman Liz Walters

Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones issued a statement calling for peace following the reading of the verdict.

“Mr. Chauvin has been tried by a jury of his peers and the justice system has delivered the verdict on Second-Degree Murder, Third-Degree Murder, and Second-Degree Manslaughter,” Jones wrote in a statement. “The jury has spoken and Mr. Chauvin has been held accountable.”

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