Minnesota elected officials praise verdict in Derek Chauvin trial

Crowds gather in George Floyd Square to celebrate the guilty verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin.

Several of Minnesota's elected officials released statements Tuesday following the jury's verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd.

After about 10 hours of deliberation, the jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of second-degree manslaughter, guilty of third-degree murder and guilty of second-degree unintentional murder.

Statement from Governor Tim Walz:

"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."

Statement from Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan:

"Justice for George Floyd means building a community and a state where everyone is safe. While nothing will bring George back, this verdict is a step toward the vision of justice that sent thousands of people into the streets, demanding change."

"In his last moments, George cried out to his mother. His life and his humanity mattered. Our work is not done until every mother’s child is safe, valued, and protected. We must be bold in our thinking, steadfast in our commitment to one another, and courageous enough to reimagine what true public safety means. And we must never forget George Floyd’s daughter, who will grow up without a father."

"The grief and pain of so many Minnesotans doesn’t go away with one verdict, even a verdict towards justice. And the legacy of this moment and this movement does not end today."

Statement from Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey:

"George Perry Floyd Jr. came to Minneapolis to better his life. But ultimately his life will have bettered our city. Today the jury joined in a shared conviction that has animated Minneapolis for the last 11 months: they refused to look away. They believed their own eyes and affirmed George Floyd should still be here today.  

"This murder verdict won’t change the fact that George Floyd’s family has been rendered incomplete. It won’t undo the damage to community, restore the potential and promise of his life, or give a child her father back. But the decision marks an important step in our pursuit of racial justice in Minneapolis – one important step on a much longer journey.  

"Generation after generation, year after year, this measure of basic justice has been denied to our Black community. That there will be Black Minneapolis residents and Minnesotans left stunned, suspended in disbelief that the jury actually delivered this moment for George Floyd – that reality speaks volumes to the trauma our society has inflicted both quietly and overtly.  

"Ours is a deeply imperfect city – one with its work cut out for it – but as a people we have never been so completely committed to doing that work. Minneapolis is pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in policy under state law. We’re building up new and inclusive community safety systems and piloting new alternative response programming without tearing down Chief Arradondo’s work. We are a city capable of extraordinary progress.  

"What makes our democracy work, what will make our community stronger, and what will inform our ability to honor George Floyd’s life in both word and deed will be our community’s active participation in shaping the future.  

"Yes, there will be challenges. And I know we will meet them together, with a shared sense of purpose, an abiding commitment to racial justice, and an unmatched love for the City of Minneapolis."

Statement from Sen. Amy Klobuchar:

"Today’s conviction was right. For the Floyd family, nothing will bring back George, but this verdict is a first step towards accountability. Attorney General Keith Ellison and his team did great work prosecuting this case, and the hometown witnesses and police officers who testified displayed such courage in reliving that horrific day and making the case for justice. 

"This trial was about George Floyd’s murder, but it also captured his life. His brother Philonise Floyd introduced us to a devoted son who struggled to tear himself away from his mother’s casket, a loving brother who always made sure his siblings had a snack for school, and a dedicated community member who ‘just knew how to make people feel better.’

"George Floyd should be alive today, and this conviction will not bring him back to us, nor will it bring us total justice. As long as George Floyd isn’t around to swap trucking tips with his brother, mark the anniversary of his beloved mother’s passing, or hug his children again, there will not be justice. And while Black Americans continue to be subjected to a system that keeps mothers and fathers up at night worrying about whether their children are going to come back home every time they get in the car, we know our work is not done. 

"As Martin Luther King Jr. once said: ‘If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.’

"It’s long past time the Senate moves forward and passes police reform to hold officers accountable for misconduct, increase transparency in policing practices, and improve police conduct and training, including banning chokeholds. This is the urgent task before us—not for tomorrow, not for next year, but for now. 

"And today, as we reflect on the life of George Floyd, and appreciate this step towards accountability and the work of the prosecutors, judge and jury, we acknowledge our long and winding march towards justice. We renew our commitment towards securing his legacy—not just as the man whose death shined a light on the undeniable stain of racism on our country—but as the man whose memory inspires us to build a more equitable system."

Statement from Sen. Tina Smith:

"Convicting Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd is a moment of accountability, and also a moment to recommit ourselves to the movement for racial justice his tragic murder sparked.

"Millions of people took to the streets because we couldn’t look away from the reality of George Floyd’s murder and we could see change had to come. I can’t stop thinking about all the Black and Brown people denied their civil rights and denied their lives, where there was no accountability.

"Last week a reporter interviewing me referred to Minnesota as ‘the Jim Crow of the North.’ Devastating. He was talking about the deep and persistent inequities in housing, health care, policing and the criminal justice system, and economic opportunity that people of color experience in my state.

"These inequities exist, not only in Minnesota, but all across our country. And we can change them.

"What if this verdict is the beginning of a transformation in public safety for Minnesota and our country, where we move past the warrior model of policing and toward a model of truly protecting and serving?

"What if we rethink public safety so that Black and Brown people, and all people, truly feel safe and protected in their homes, neighborhoods and communities?

"This is the work ahead of all of us."