Here are the reactions to the guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin case

Here are the reactions to the guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin case
Source: Adrees Latif, Reuters
Just as Floyd’s death and the subsequent BLM protests divided the nation for much of the last year, so has the guilty verdict his killer received.

On April 20, just after 5 p.m. EST, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill read the jury’s verdict in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin: guilty on all three counts. Chauvin has been convicted of murdering George Floyd, a Black man whose May 2020 death while being choked by Chauvin sparked months of national Black Lives Matter protests and clashes with the police.

Though it will be two months before Chauvin is officially sentenced, possibly to 40 years in prison, the reactions to the guilty verdict were instantaneous.

Across social media and television, politicians, pundits, celebrities and news reporters responded, many with elation at the news, others with mixed emotions or anger.

Just as Floyd’s death and the subsequent BLM protests divided the nation for much of the last year, so has the guilty verdict his killer received.

Celebrating the verdict

Within seconds of the verdict being read, reactions on Twitter from some of the nation’s biggest celebrities and athletes were largely celebratory. Musician and founder of the hip-hop group, the Roots, set the tone with a tweet within minutes of the verdict: “Guilty. This doesn’t even feel real. This has NEVER happened in my lifetime. Shit…..”

Following the verdict, Floyd’s brother, Philonese Floyd, who had been a witness in the trial, told reporters and supporters that the verdict was a relief: “I feel relieved today that I finally have the opportunity for hopefully getting some sleep.” He went on to compare his brother to Emmett Till, the 14-year-old Black boy who, in 1955, was lynched by white men in Mississippi.

President Joe Biden spoke briefly immediately following the verdict. He called Chauvin’s actions “a murder in the full light of the day” and said it reflected “systemic racism … that is a stain on our nation’s soul.” Biden went on to call the verdict “a giant step forward” for racial justice, while asserting “such a verdict is much too rare.”

Oprah released a statement on Twitter with the hashtag #GeorgeFloyd: “Relieved–and emotional in ways I didn’t expect. I cried tears of joy as each verdict was read. I’m grateful to the witnesses and their testimonies. Grateful to Darnella Frazier [the teenager whose video of Floyd’s death went viral]. Grateful to every juror for seeing and acknowledging what the world saw on that tape. Thank you God for real!”

Many responses celebrated that justice had been served for Floyd and his family. Chris Evans, star of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, tweeted, “Justice. Sending love to George Floyd’s family and friends.” George Takei, known best as Sulu from Star Trek, tweeted a similar sentiment, echoing the words of Martin Luther King Jr.: “Justice. The moral arc of the universe has finally bent toward it.”

“No winners in this case”

Other responses were more circumspect, acknowledging that the verdict was only one part of a larger discussion on racial justice in the US. Singer Mariah Carey called the verdict “A beginning.. a small grain of hope for our future.” Actress and talk show host Whoopi Goldberg tweeted, “No one wins.. George Floyd is still gone..and finally someone was responsible… Derek Chauvin.”

Many responses were even more succinct, like that of basketball superstar LeBron James, who responded simply with an all-caps “ACCOUNTABILITY.”

Multiple sports teams offered responses to the verdict. The official Twitter account of the Minnesota Vikings, a team in the National Football League, released a statement shortly after the verdict, saying, in part, “While today’s decision does not minimize the anguish or solve the intolerable issues of racism and hate, we hope it can mark the beginning of community healing.”

The Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis also released a statement shortly after the verdict was read, thanking the jury for its service and adding, “We also want to reach out to the community and still express our deep remorse for their pain, as we feel it as well.”

However, the statement went on to assert there were “no winners in this case” and took critical aim at politicians: “We need the political pandering to stop and the race baiting of elected officials to stop. In addition, we need to stop the divisive comments and we all need to do better to create a Minneapolis we all love.”

Dismay at the verdict

There were others who did not agree with the guilty verdict for Derek Chauvin. Many, especially within conservative media, decried the verdict as a mistake that was the product of political manipulation and lies.

On his Fox News show, Tucker Carlson and his guest, conservative pundit Candace Owens, criticized the verdict. Owens called the trial “mob justice” spurred on by “the media and the Democrats” misrepresenting Floyd’s death, which had led to riots. Carlson agreed, lamenting that Republicans “abandoned” their voters who had rioted at the US Capitol on January 6.

Conservative Christian blogger Matt Walsh claimed on Twitter, “The mob, led by Democrats at the highest level, successfully intimidated the jury into getting the result they wanted before the trial started.”

The idea that the jury was pressured into voting guilty was a recurring theme among conservative commentators. Scott Morefield, writer for The Federalist and National Review, tweeted, “JURY: See? We gave you everything you wanted! Now, please, pretty please don’t dox us or hurt our families or burn down our cities …”

Mollie Hemingway, co-founder of The Federalist, criticized Biden’s comments about the Chauvin trial: “Joe Biden pushing a narrative of America as a racist dystopia and daily horror show for black Americans, saying that they can’t live their lives or walk down the street for fear of killing by law enforcement.”

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