A jury in Minnesota found Derek Chauvin, the police officer that was charged with murdering George Floyd last year, guilty on two murder charges as well as one manslaughter charge on Tuesday. Virginia’s gubernatorial candidates responded afterward, mostly in support of the verdict with the exception of one Republican.
“Watching George Floyd’s murder, I felt the same trauma my parents felt when they heard about Emmett Till,” Democratic hopeful Jennifer McClellan said in a statement Tuesday.
After Chauvin’s murder of Floyd was filmed and went viral on social media, a massive social justice movement swept the nation. Virginia saw a wave of new criminal justice reform laws get passed as well as the removal of confederate statues along Monument Avenue in Richmond. “While today’s guilty verdict is one step in a longer march toward justice, George Floyd should be alive today. George Floyd’s murder must remain a clarion call for continuing police and justice reform,” McClellan said.
The video showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes while he was handcuffed — Floyd could be heard pleading with the officer telling him that he couldn’t breathe before he lost consciousness and eventually died. “Today’s verdict will never bring George Floyd back into the arms of his family and loved ones,” said Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jennifer Carroll Foy. “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.”
Terry McAuliffe, the former governor that is now running again and holds a big lead in the Democratic primary polls agrees with his opponents that the system remains broken. “Today’s verdict delivers accountability, but this racist, broken system remains intact. The time to act is now. We need reform before even one more Black or Brown life is taken,” McAuliffe said in a statement Tuesday.
State Del. Kirk Cox, a Republican gubernatorial candidate for governor said Chauvin was provided due process and the rule of law should be valued. “Officer Chauvin was afforded due process and convicted today by an impartial jury,” Cox said in a statement Tuesday. “For me, that is a clear result of our judicial process, and it’s important to not only respect that outcome, but to defend it as the rightful result in a society that should value the rule of law.”
Chief Medaria Arradondo of the Minneapolis Police Department testified during the trial that Chauvin violated department policy when he knelt on Mr. Floyd for more than nine minutes. “Once Mr. Floyd had stopped resisting, and certainly once he was in distress and trying to verbalize that, that should have stopped,” Arradondo said during his testimony.
State Senator Amanda Chase, the Republican gubernatorial candidate that is most like Donald Trump struck a different tone from the other candidates when she said she is concerned about the Chauvin convictions. “I’m concerned that the decision was politically motivated more to prevent civil unrest than to serve justice,” she said in a statement Tuesday night. “The decision made today sends a clear message to law enforcement; the justice system doesn’t have your back. I’m concerned that across our great nation our second line of defense will resign because it’s simply not worth the personal price one now has to pay to serve in the line of duty.”
Glenn Youngkin, a former executive at The Carlyle Group who is seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination gave condolences to the families of Floyd and Chauvin. “Our prayers are with the Floyd family, the Chauvin family, and our entire American family at this time,” Youngkin said in a statement Wednesday. “It is our hope that Mr. Floyd’s family finds peace in this verdict right now, at what is no doubt another agonizing moment in their lives. As governor I will uphold the foundations of our civil society, preserve the right to a fair trial, and ensure equal treatment under the law. I believe it is time to come together in our hope for a better tomorrow.”
Pete Snyder responded to the verdict in a statement Wednesday. “Our commitment to due process and the rule of law is the fundamental foundation of our society and is what makes America exceptional,” Snyder said. “Every Virginian can and should stand together in pursuit of truth and justice. As Governor, I will fight to protect and preserve our founding principles.”
The campaign for Justin Fairfax did not respond to requests for comment.
Three other Minneapolis police officers, Tou Thao, Thomas Kiernan Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng responded last year with Chauvin to the call where he murdered Floyd. They still face charges of aiding and abetting Chauvin on two of his charges. “While Derek Chauvin slowly murdered a man over the course of 9 and a half minutes, a murder for which he has now been convicted, three other police officers provided security for him to do it without interruption,” Del. Lee Carter, a Democratic gubernatorial hopeful pointed out Tuesday night.
Philonise Floyd, George’s brother who visited the Robert E. Lee statue on Monument Ave. in Richmond last summer said he will find some relief in the verdict. “I feel relieved today that I finally have the opportunity for hopefully getting some sleep,” he said after the verdict was read.
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