Virginia, local leaders react to Derek Chauvin trial verdict

Virginia News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC/WFXR) — Tuesday afternoon a jury found Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, guilty of the murder of George Floyd. Politicians and community leaders from across Virginia voiced their reactions to the news.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam took time to speak to reporters outside of the state capitol building. He also released a statement in response to the verdict.

“The life of George Floyd matters. He should still be alive today, and no courtroom decision can bring him back. But this decision is an important step. It is a step towards accountability for police. It is a step towards justice—for George Floyd, for his family, for his community, and for our entire country.

I pray that today brings some small comfort to the family of George Floyd and all who loved him. May we honor his legacy by continuing on this march towards justice and meaningful change. We have a lot of work ahead.”

Gov. Ralph Northam

The Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus released a statement saying justice is being served for George Floyd and his family.

While a ‘guilty’ verdict in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin is nothing to celebrate, Senate Democrats know the justice being served for George Floyd, his family, and communities all across the United States and world will bring closure for this case but also the turning of a page in our country’s history. The death of George Floyd sparked desperate cries and long-overdue demands for change and for justice to be added to our nation’s systems. The trial of Derek Chauvin is not simply a trial of a former officer, but it is a trial of our values as a nation. Senate Democrats applaud the jury for the hard work that they had to undergo during the case.

VIRGINIA SENATE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine posted a statement on social media, saying while justice was served, there is still much work to be done.

U.S. Rep. Donald McEachin said even though the verdic showed the system worked this time, George Floyd still lost his life at the hands of law enforcement, like many other Black Americans before him.

“We must commit to changing our policing to ensure these kinds of incidents do not happen again, are not continual headlines and that families are not left shocked and grieving when a loved one doesn’t come home,” McEachin tweeted. “And that is how we honor George Floyd’s life and countless others.”

Del. Danica Roem said while no verdict will bring back Floyd, the verdict is “at least an act of accountability.”

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner echoed these sentiments in a tweet.

“Nothing will bring him back. But we owe it to Mr. Floyd, his family, and far too many others like him to take meaningful action to reform our policing system,” Warner tweeted. “We can start by passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

Virginia House Democratic Majority Leader Charniele Herring and House Democratic Caucus Chair Rip Sullivan said while justice has been served, there is still a long road ahead to eliminate inequality and injustice.

“Floyd’s death reawakened our communities to the need for urgent, effective reforms to ensure greater accountability for wrongdoing by those in uniform,” the legislators said in a joint statement. “Each person deserves to be treated with the same level of respect by police—regardless of race, ethnicity, or background—while also knowing that law enforcement cares about them and their community.”

Terry McAuliffe, Democratic candidate for governor, also released a statement.

Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring released the following statement regarding Tuesday’s guilty verdict.

“George Floyd should still be alive, and while no verdict will bring him back to his family, these verdicts provide a measure of justice and accountability for a heartless and senseless murder. The world watched as Derek Chauvin put his knee on George Floyd’s neck – ending his life as he called out for his mother. This guilty verdict will hopefully be an inflection point that forces us all to recommit to building a society in which Black lives matter and all Americans can live without fearing the police or discrimination.   

To the hardworking prosecutors and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who were dedicated to getting this justice for George Floyd and his family – thank you for standing up and fighting for what is right. “For too long, our country has had two different systems of justice – one for white Americans and one for Black Americans and Americans of color. And while today’s verdict shows that sometimes the system can work, too often Black and brown Americans are killed at the hands of police officers. We cannot continue in this way. 

We must truly commit ourselves to making our criminal justice system fair, equal, and just for every single person living in this country – not based on what you look like, what your job is, how much money you have, or where you live.”

Mark Herring, Virginia’s Attorney General

Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea not only issued the following statement, but he also participated in a live interview with WFXR News Wednesday morning about the verdict:

“This afternoon, the jury for the Derek Chauvin trial delivered its verdict and found Mr. Chauvin guilty on all counts.  Justice has been served.  As the Mayor of Roanoke I want to emphasize that Roanoke is always looking to rise above any situation and do our best for the people who live in our community. We are a diverse and inclusive City, and we stand together against racism and hatred wherever it exists. This situation is an opportunity for us to come together as a community, to demonstrate that we can be thoughtful and committed to peace and unity as we uphold our values.  Many of the recent demonstrations in our City have included people of all colors and backgrounds acting together, and that is how we need to continue to see ourselves, together not divided.”

Sherman P. Lea, Roanoke Mayor

Dr. Brenda Hale, president of the Roanoke chapter of the NAACP, also spoke with WFXR News Wednesday morning about the Chauvin trial.

Lynchburg Police Chief Ryan Zuidema also released a statement about Tuesday’s verdict, focusing on how his department is dedicated on building relationships with its citizens.

Democratic candidate for governor, Jennifer Carroll Foy, also released this statement.

“Today’s verdict will never bring George Floyd back into the arms of his family and loved ones. We cannot forget that we will never get true, full justice, until we take action to change the system that took Mr. Floyd’s life, and impacted countless other Black Americans, like Lt. Caron Nazario and Donovan Lynch here in Virginia. Too many of us have been hurt and harmed when the cameras have been off or pointed away. 

As a public defender, I’ve seen how our broken system works well for the wealthy and well-connected, and works against Black and other marginalized communities. For too long, bad actors at all levels of government have not been held accountable – from policing to healthcare disparities, economic inequality, corruption, and so much more. We can’t wait any longer for action, and we must acknowledge we got to this place because of a broken system that wasn’t meant to work for Black and brown communities. Now, I encourage everyone to peacefully join in the hard work of pushing for action and accountability, and to take care of yourselves in the days and months to come. 

It’s on days like these that I know I will hold my sons tighter to me when I put them to bed tonight. And it’s on days like these that my worries about my husband weigh even heavier. For Xander, for Alex, and for all Virginians who have been left behind, I will not rest until we create a Virginia that is fair, just and equitable for us all.” 

Former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy

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