WASHINGTON – Black members of Congress gathered outside the US Capitol on Tuesday minutes after Derek Chauvin was sentenced to the death of George Floyd, calling the conviction the “first step” to achieving justice.
“We certainly agree with this ruling,” said Joyce Beatty, chairwoman of the Black Caucus in Congress, D-Ohio, surrounded by caucus members. “But we want our message to be clear that this is only the first step. We clearly know that justice has been delayed.”
A Minnesota jury found Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, guilty of three charges, including second and third degree murder and second degree manslaughter. Floyd died after Chauvin kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes last year.
“That judgment is a step. It’s a snap of the lock to get to the place where we can open the door and really start doing the work to save lives,” said Rep. Cori Bush, D -Mo. “That was accountability, but it’s not justice yet. Justice for us saves lives.”
The group was joined by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Who said Floyd’s name will “always be synonymous with justice”.
After the press conference, lawmakers joined in a prayer presided over by Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo.
Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif, told reporters she was “relieved” to hear the verdicts.
“I can breathe out. I can feel that justice has been done. I couldn’t have imagined it would be any different. But now we have to see what the condemnation is,” she said. “The conviction should be the absolute maximum. Forty years sounds good.”
Bass, a former CBC chairman, said she was optimistic the chauvinist ruling would result in a compromise on a police reform bill named after Floyd that she had worked on with Republicans including Senator Tim Scott, RS.C.
“I think we’re in a good place right now where bipartisan talks have taken place,” she said. “I hope we can make it over the finish line and this will be a positive dynamic to get there.”
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act aims to strengthen police accountability and prevent problem officers from moving from one department to another by creating a national register that tracks selections based on a checkered past. The bill, endorsed by President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, passed the house in March, awaiting action in the Senate.
“We shouldn’t confuse a guilty verdict in this case as evidence that the persistent problem of police misconduct has been resolved or that the gap between law enforcement and so many communities they serve has been bridged,” said Chuck Schumer, majority leader of the Senate. DN.Y. The Senate will continue this work to ensure that George Floyd’s tragic death is not in vain. ”
Legislators across Washington appeared to approve of the jury’s decision.
Minnesota Democratic Senator Tina Smith said she “breathed a sigh of relief” when she heard the guilty verdict.
“Justice has been served. The conviction of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd is a moment of real accountability,” she said. “And there’s a lot to do to achieve long-term justice, too. And I think of the millions of people who took to the streets to have their voices heard. They couldn’t look away from the murder of George Floyd. And I think of all the people who were not served justice, who lost their civil rights or their lives to police violence. And that is the work that lies ahead of us. “
Senator Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia, also called it “a step towards justice”.
“It takes a long time to regain the trust of people who don’t trust our judicial system,” he said. “It’s not a single judgment that will regain trust.”
Indiana Republican Senator Mike Braun said the verdicts were what he was. “I expected and hoped and I think they were deserved.”
Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Said the verdict “provides accountability for Derek Chauvin, but no justice for George Floyd.”
“The trauma and tragedy of George Floyd’s murder must never leave us,” he said. “It was a manifestation of a system that ruthlessly devalues black lives. Our struggle is now about justice – not justice on paper, but real justice in which all Americans live their lives free from oppression. We must bravely eradicate cancer. ” of systemic racism and police violence against people of color. “
Contributor: Jeanine Santucci