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MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Derek Chauvin, a former police officer with the Minneapolis Police Department, was found guilty Tuesday on all three counts: second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Floyd died last May after Chauvin, a white officer, knelt on the 46-year-old Black man’s neck for about 9 1/2 minutes. The incident sparked numerous protests, including one that happened in Racine that ended with the COP house being burned down.

Following the verdict, Chauvin was remanded into the custody of the sheriff’s department. The sentencing hearing would likely be held in eight weeks. Chauvin faces up to 35 years in prison, said Judge Peter Cahill.

Governor commits to continuing work on social justice issues

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers said that no verdict could bring peace to Floyd’s family, but his “heart and thoughts” were with them and the entire community.

“While this is a moment of accountability in our justice system and our country, we are reminded that justice for Black lives is not a moment—it requires meaningful, sustained, and systemic change,” he said. “Today’s verdict doesn’t replace the changes we must make to keep our promises of a more fair and more equitable state and country. Every day—and especially today—we must reaffirm and resolve to continue our work toward justice.” 

Social justice leader speaks out

Locally, hundreds of people have gathered at 10th and Main Street to show support for the jury’s decision.

Corey Prince, a social justice advocate and community organizer, said Black communities fear law enforcement because of “what can happen, what does happen, and then the aftermath, what doesn’t happen.”

Prince serves as co-chair of the Racine NAACP Criminal Justice Committee. He said the issues around excessive use of force can only be addressed when police officers are held accountable . He wants police officers to be heled at the same standard everyone else is held to, specifically around aggressive use of force, reckless, wanton use, or negligent discharge of a firearm.

“There needs to be a national database created when police do acts of violence or acts of misconduct against citizens there needs to be a national database, whether those police are then banned from ever working in policing again,” he said. “You know those are those are first steps that we can take to start restructuring how we even look at the model of policing.”

Prince — however — pointed out that the Minneapolis Police trained Chauvin to follow certain procedures, but the training didn’t fail Chauvin.

“You can train movements. You train procedures,” he said. “But you don’t train a heart. We’re actually speaking about something that exists in your heart, not implicit bias or purpose because that’s one thing. That’s something that you could be made aware of, you can recognize and you can unlearn. But we’re talking about racist ideology.”

Local government leaders react

Racine Mayor Corey Mason issued the following statement:

“Today, Derek Chauvin was brought to justice for brutally killing George Floyd in the streets of Minneapolis one year ago. It is a historic moment, as it is the first time in recent history that an on-duty officer has been held accountable for killing an unarmed black man.

“This lone verdict does not fix the institutional and systemic racism that exists in this country, but it does show that the justice system is capable of holding officers accountable when they choose to operate so clearly outside of their training. As a City, we must continue the work of listening to community members and building a better, more just justice system.

“We remain committed to implementing the recommendations of the Mayor’s Police Reform Task Force and will continue to build community trust and partnership with our own police department through our community-oriented policing model. While this is not justice for George Floyd – justice would mean that he was alive and with his family today – it is my sincere hope that this verdict brings some measure of peace and closure to his family and friends.” 

Greta Neubauer (D-Racine) said the murder served as a flashpoint for the country and was “indicative of police practices across the United States of America” due to systemic racism.

“Throughout our United States of America and to the fact that police are not held accountable,” she said. “Legislation has now been passed that dissolves qualified immunity to officers home, the thresholds for finding the officer guilty for even being able to prosecute the opposite, is that he intended to kill he or she intended to kill. And so when we talk about those two things in and of itself. They work together to create an atmosphere that is white for the brutalization of black bodies.”

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.