Common Dreams

This is accountability, but not justice.

That was the widely shared sentiment contained in a tidal wave of reaction Tuesday after a jury in Minnesota found Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, guilty of murdering George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, in Minneapolis last year.

Chauvin was charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. He will be sentenced in eight weeks. His conviction follows more recent instances of police violence that have sparked outrage.

Floyd’s death led to a global wave of protests demanding racial justice, an end to police brutality—particularly against people of color—and sweeping reforms in law enforcement. The verdict Tuesday prompted more demonstrations and calls for deep and lasting change from a diverse range of racial justice campaigners, progressive advocacy groups, and elected officials.

What follows is just a small selection of those comments and perspectives:

Center for Constitutional Rights:

“Despite today’s guilty verdict, true justice for George Floyd and the other Black lives snuffed out by police has yet to be done… Derek Chauvin will now serve a penalty for acts deemed exceptional. But his behavior was not exceptional, and treating George Floyd’s murder as a consequence of extraordinary acts neither protects Black people nor captures the unreformable depravity of our system of policing. His murder is the predictable outcome of policing’s origin in slave patrols and the ongoing, constant threat to Black people of arrest, incarceration, violence, and death.”

Communications Workers of America:

“Today’s verdict finding Derek Chauvin guilty of the murder of George Floyd is a step toward justice for Floyd, his family members, and all those who have been affected by his brutal murder. But it is not enough. As we have seen in the past few weeks, the threat of police violence continues to be a constant presence in the lives of Black and Brown people in our country. We’ve heard all the pretexts and excuses and promises to do better, but the fact remains that there has been no reduction in the racial disparity in fatal police shootings over the past five years.”

Vera Institute of Justice:

“The verdict is an important step toward police accountability for a brutal act of violence. While the outcome of this trial was just, it won’t bring George Floyd back, lessen the suffering of his family, or keep our communities safe from racism and police violence. A system rooted in racism and white supremacy won’t deliver the accountability or safety we deserve. There is more work to do.”

Lindsey Allen, Greenpeace USA:

“While this is a milestone, there is so much more work to be done to dismantle white supremacy and overhaul the systems that allow for racist police and vigilante violence against Black and Brown people in the first place… The verdict falling during the week of Earth Day connects our movements in protest and reminds us that there is no climate justice without racial justice. As an environmental community, we must speak out in the face of white supremacy, systemic injustice, and their fatal consequences. Fighting for a green and peaceful future includes speaking out against the unjust, racist, and systemic violence facing Black people in the U.S.”

Stosh Cotler, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action:

“Derek Chauvin will still have his life, while the families of George Floyd, Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, and so many others continue to mourn… We rise in solidarity with Black and brown people—including Jews of color—resisting in the Twin Cities, in Brooklyn Center, in our Jewish communities, and across the country. At the same time, Republican-led state legislatures across the country are moving forward legislation that would criminalize Black and brown-led protest, from the recently passed H.B. 1 in Florida to bills introduced in Minnesota just this month. We condemn these anti-democratic measures and call on leaders and elected officials to protect the rights of protesters.”

Abigail Dillen, Earthjustice:

“This conviction must mark the beginning of true change in our country, where the criminal justice system has consistently failed to hold police officers accountable for the unwarranted killings and brutality that have disproportionately taken the lives of Black people and other people of color in traumatized communities… Although today’s verdict marks an important step forward, we call on leadership at every level of government to advance urgently needed policing reforms that bring about true racial justice and equality.”

Rahna Epting, MoveOn:

“The Derek Chauvin verdict is a welcome measure of accountability. Yet, the truth is that Chauvin being convicted for killing George Floyd is, unfortunately, the exception in this country, not the rule. In order to truly achieve justice, we must fundamentally transform public safety. We must reimagine a society that truly protects and takes care of one another, and treats one another with dignity and respect. And we certainly must ensure that no police officer ever again is empowered to brutally inflict harm upon anyone and callously take their life.”

Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, Lawyers for Civil Rights:

“No one is above the law. Yet time and time again, officers engaging in unlawful misconduct are spared from legal consequences simply because they are part of law enforcement. At LCR, we are committed to bringing civil rights lawsuits on behalf of people of color affected by police misconduct. Today, we call on prosecutors to similarly do their part by holding police officers responsible for misconduct. Prosecutors across the nation—including here in Massachusetts—must stop shielding officers who act beyond the bounds of their authority and rain violence upon communities of color. Prosecutors must track, expose, and prosecute officers and police departments that engage in brutality, racial profiling, and other civil rights violations.”

Kassandra Frederique, Drug Policy Alliance:

“Over the course of the trial, the defense brought in one witness after another not to prove Derek Chauvin didn’t kill George Floyd, but instead to prove that George Floyd was under the influence of drugs at the time of his death and in previous law enforcement encounters… This verdict, for once, gives us hope that the days of this excuse still working are numbered. But the fight is not over. Make no mistake, this will happen again and there will be other officers who try to escape all accountability. We must work to end the drug war, so that drugs can never again be used as an excuse to rob people of their dignity, their humanity, or their lives.”

George Goehl and Bree Carlson, People’s Action:

“No verdict will bring George Floyd back, or deliver justice to his family and others who have suffered state-sanctioned police violence. Today, we breathe a sigh of relief as the Floyd family and the people of Minneapolis are offered some shred of accountability. We have a long road ahead, and we know that convicting one guilty person cannot bring justice for generations of oppression. True justice begins with defunding the Minneapolis police department and diverting that funding to programs to make communities healthy and whole, and it will be complete only when our country finally and permanently ends state-sanctioned murders of Black people.”

John Gordon, ACLU of Minnesota:

“While this verdict brings a certain rare form of accountability for police, achieving this outcome for Mr. Floyd is only one step in addressing police abuse of power, disparate treatment, and excessive force against Black and Brown communities. We still must radically change policing in Minnesota and across the country, increase accountability and transparency, and create policies that combat racism in policing. The jury’s decision to convict Derek Chauvin does not negate the fact that Mr. Floyd’s tragic murder is part of a horrifying local and national pattern of officers using excessive force against people of color.”

Debra Gore-Mann, Greenlining Institute:

“Today we experienced a small measure of justice… But we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that one conviction of one cop for a killing the whole world witnessed on video will change a fundamentally racist and dysfunctional system. The whole law enforcement system must be rethought and rebuilt from the ground up so that there are no more George Floyds, Daunte Wrights, and Adam Toledos. But even that is just a start. Policing doesn’t operate in a vacuum. Systemic racism exists in policing because systemic racism exists in America. We must fundamentally uproot the disease of racism in our society and create a transformative path forward.”

Massachusetts AG Maura Healey and Nevada AG Aaron Ford, Democratic Attorneys General Association:

“Today, there was accountability for George Floyd’s murder. But the work for justice continues… Today, we recommit to working to end the injustice of police killings without consequence—disproportionately affecting Black, Brown and other communities and families of color. We applaud our colleague AG Keith Ellison and his team for their leadership and commitment to justice for George Floyd and his family. To those marching in the streets for continued justice and progress, know that we stand with you in the fight for reforms, and are working to make sure systemic change happens at the state and federal level.”

Shanene Herbert, the American Friends Service Committee’s Healing Justice program in Saint Paul:

“The brutal murder of George Floyd is the consequence of a racist system that disproportionately targets people of color for violence, imprisonment, and premature death… No matter the outcome of the trial, young people of color are living every day with the ongoing trauma of police violence, the militarization of our cities, tear gas invading their homes, and brutality against protestors. Instead of this constant dehumanization, we need resources to help us heal and rebuild the beloved community we all deserve.”

Margaret Huang, Southern Poverty Law Center:

“Today’s verdict is an acknowledgement that police officers cannot get away with murder, but we still have a long way to go to achieve the justice demanded by so many protesters in the last year… The fact that justice was done in this case cannot allow us to forget about the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Dion Johnson, among many others. But this case galvanized a movement for justice that has expanded across the country, rooted in longstanding demands for a reimagining of a criminal legal system built on anti-Black racism and white supremacy. Lawmakers at the state and federal level must begin holding officers accountable for police violence.”

Farhana Khera, Muslim Advocates:

“The jury’s guilty verdict is a long-overdue measure of justice for the Floyd family… Now, all the other officers involved in Floyd’s killing must also be held accountable. And we must hold accountable all the other officers involved in the killings of Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, Breonna Taylor, Muhammad Muhaymin, Jr. and the many, many other Black people and people of color who have been harmed and killed by the police. Further, we must all take drastic, immediate action to overhaul the law enforcement and justice systems that have allowed this violence to continue for so long.”

Karissa Lewis, Movement for Black Lives:

“George Floyd should still be alive, full stop. Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict doesn’t fix an irredeemable, racist system of policing rooted in white supremacy that will continue working against and harming Black people just as designed… This repeat cycle of police killings, trials, and no real substantive systemic change has to stop. Now is the time for a complete reimagining of public safety in the United States, so that no more fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, children, siblings or loved ones are lost to the hands of state violence.”

Miski Noor, Black Visions:

“We know that true justice would be served only if George was still here with his family, loved ones, and community. We believe in a world where Black people don’t have to feel this pain and wonder why these things keep happening… It is both individuals and institutions that bear responsibility for the loss of George’ s life and the pain his family experiences, so we feel a guilty verdict is an important step for the community and we know that Chauvin is not the exception but the rule. No one conviction, training, or reform can interrupt the rotten foundation of the institution of police and policing.”

Becky Pringle, National Education Association:

“While the jury reached the right decision and did in fact convict former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin of George Floyd’s murder, we are again joining together to make sure all of us feel safe in our schools, neighborhoods, and communities… As the one-year mark of George Floyd’s murder approaches, we must continue to come together to demand accountability and justice for all and to demand that our elected leaders—especially those who have taken an oath to serve and protect us—to respect our rights, no matter our race, background, or where we live.”

Roxana Rivera, 32BJ:

“As a union representing mostly Black and Brown workers, our members cannot escape a dangerous reality that they too could become a victim of police brutality, even as they risk their own lives keeping us safe on the frontlines as essential workers who clean and secure buildings. Many must travel to and from work during off-hours and fear being harassed and brutalized by the police… We must ensure this ruling signals an end to the cycle of violence against our Black and Brown communities, and the beginning of long overdue reform of our broken policing and criminal justice systems.”

Rashad Robinson, Color of Change:

“Nine minutes and 29 seconds will forever be supplanted in our hearts and memory. Now we must look at the road ahead. Our fight for racial justice continues as we fight to fundamentally alter a system that continues to threaten, harm, and kill Black people. So we use this moment to push for real change because the fight for accountability and justice in America is far from over. The Chauvin trial may be over, but what comes next will be the consequential moment in our history. We need to do more than raise our voices; we must demand action now… Color of Change is all in for the fight for justice and will continue to advocate for systemic change.”

Kristina Roth, Amnesty International USA:

“Of course, true justice for George Floyd would require him to still be alive… Not only did Derek Chauvin deny George Floyd his human rights, he also showed utter disregard for George Floyd’s humanity. We must acknowledge the racist roots of law enforcement in this country if we are to address the systemic failures of policing and bring about meaningful public safety for those that have been historically overpoliced. This must include shrinking the size and scope of law enforcement in daily life, eliminating qualified immunity that creates a barrier to redress for victims of unlawful policing, demilitarizing law enforcement, and enacting strict limits on the use of force altogether.”

Linda Sarsour, MPower Change:

“Today’s verdict might come as a relief, but to act in solidarity with Black communities, we must remember that it is decidedly the exception, not the rule. And we must continue to take action in honor of the life of George Floyd, and all lives lost to white supremacy, policing, and incarceration by fighting for a world without these roots of injustice.”

Lee Saunders, AFSCME:

“We cannot let today’s verdict allow us to become complacent about the challenges we face. We have to do better. Black people in America are exhausted with fear and anxiety every single day. Today’s verdict is appropriate punishment for a single crime. But to honor the memory of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Adam Toledo, and so many others whose only ‘crime’ was being Black, we must work with greater effort and urgency than ever to bend the arc toward racial justice.”

Shari Silberstein, Equal Justice USA:

“Today, so many people are exhaling with relief for the thousands who cannot: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Duante Wright, Adam Toledo, and so many more. A legal system that has been over-applied to Black and brown people and dramatically under-applied to law enforcement has now convicted one police officer. The verdict is deeply meaningful for being so rare. But we cannot mistake this for a transformative moment. We still pour billions more dollars into policing than into proven health-based violence prevention. Black people are still not safe when they’re pulled over, jogging, even surrendering. And our nation has not been accountable to the harm of centuries of racist policies embedded in our justice system and far beyond it.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.):

“While today’s conviction is a necessary condition of justice, it is not sufficient. For centuries, Black people have faced violence at the hands of the state in our country. For centuries, systemic inequalities in the form of housing, income, education, and criminal justice have plagued our country—holding us back from our creed of liberty and justice for all. Let this be a turning point, where we finally create a society that reflects the belief that all men and women are created equal. Let this be the moment where we implement a broad anti-racist agenda to root out the inequalities that continue to plague us.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.):

“The jury’s verdict delivers accountability for Derek Chauvin, but not justice for George Floyd. Real justice for him and too many others can only happen when we build a nation that fundamentally respects the human dignity of every person. The trauma and tragedy of George Floyd’s murder must never leave us. It was a manifestation of a system that callously devalues the lives of Black people. Our struggle now is about justice—not justice on paper, but real justice in which all Americans live their lives free of oppression. We must boldly root out the cancer of systemic racism and police violence against people of color.”

Ohio congressional candidate Nina Turner (D):

“This needs to be a turning point for America. It does not end here—far from it, but it’s a damn good feeling to exhale and feel that some semblance of justice was served. My heart is with the Floyd family. If you ever doubt the power of movements, please remember today.”