MICHIGAN — State and local leaders offered reactions to the guilty verdict reached in the Derek Chauvin trial earlier today.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer tweeted saying her thoughts are with George Floyd's family, going on to say that Black Americans face racism and inequity on a daily basis and that work needs to be done to tackle those issues.
Last year, millions of people around the world spoke with a collective voice when we said Black Lives Matter. Together, we will continue tackling the deep-rooted, structural racism and inequity present in our institutions and faced by Black Americans every day.
— Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) April 20, 2021
Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II also tweeted today, saying that the outcome in the Derek Chauvin trial was a favorable one and that new policies must be enacted to improve "access to justice and opportunity."
We must continue to press for policies that protect and expand access to justice and opportunity.
— Garlin Gilchrist II (@LtGovGilchrist) April 20, 2021
Additionally Sen. Gary Peters shared his response via Twitter: "Nothing can bring back George Floyd or take away the pain and trauma his loved ones."
Nothing can bring back George Floyd or take away the pain and trauma his loved ones, friends and Americans across the country have experienced as a result of his death.— Senator Gary Peters (@SenGaryPeters) April 21, 2021
While Derek Chauvin was convicted today, the fight for justice continues.
Read my full statement: pic.twitter.com/5oEOQpMWzR
Grand Rapids Police Department Chief Eric Payne chimed in on our live stream.
Michigan State Police (MSP) shared their reaction via Twitter.
Chauvin verdict – Statement from Col. Joe Gasper, MSP Director: It is incumbent on all of us in law enforcement to take a hard look in the mirror. The police are the people, and the people are the police.— Michigan State Police (@MichStatePolice) April 20, 2021
The Michigan Democratic party, on Chair Lavora Barnes's behalf, says the verdict is a historic one but more work needs to be done.
Their full statement reads:
"I join millions of Americans in standing alongside George Floyd's family as we honor his life and legacy and acknowledge the historic nature of today's verdict. The trenches of systematic racism still run deep in this country though and the outcome of this trial does not mean that we are going to miraculously become a more tolerant, more generous, and more welcoming democracy. Our Black and Brown sisters and brothers are still not safe in America. We need true reform to policing before real justice, not just accountability, is served."
Michigan A.G. Dana Nessel says the verdict shows that flaws exist within law enforcement, adding that she put forth seven proposals on police reform last year that aim to remedy the issues that persist.
Nessel's full statement reads:
"The death of George Floyd has rightfully been recognized as murder by the jurors in the trial of Derek Chauvin. It is now the obligation of elected officials, community leaders and the law enforcement community throughout this country to recognize the need for reforms to transition from policing by force to cooperative efforts to create safer communities.
"For too long, fear and brutality have been at the heart of how some individuals in law enforcement view their roles within our communities. The result has had devastating consequences for residents, and particularly the Black community and other communities of color.
Last year, I announced seven proposals as part of a series of actions for police reform. The proposals seek to increase transparency surrounding law enforcement agencies and ensure accountability from and for law enforcement officers.
"It is time to acknowledge that there are problems with how and who we police. Multiple lives have been lost at the hands of law enforcement since the death of Mr. Floyd. This serves as a constant reminder that those in communities of color continue to be wronged by a system that has repeatedly failed to protect them.
"It is incumbent upon the leaders of our communities, our state, and our nation to effectuate change. The murder of Mr. Floyd by a man who wore the uniform of those sworn to serve and protect cannot be allowed to pass as one more unfortunate moment in our nation’s history. We cannot simply be satisfied by a guilty verdict. It must be a catalyst for change.
"I am committed to using the authority of the Department of Attorney General to reform the system to hold bad officers accountable and ensure community policing is truly a partnership between our residents and the men and women who wear a uniform and pledge to help keep them safe."
Wednesday morning, Battle Creek Police Chief Jim Blocker shared his thoughts on the verdict via the department’s Facebook page.
Kalamazoo Mayor David Anderson says he is pleased with the outcome of the trial, adding that our judicial system has shown that it can work.
Mayor Anderson's full statement reads:
“I want to start by offering my deepest condolences to the family and friends of George Floyd, and anyone else who lost their lives in a similar manner. I was heartened to learn that all three charges against Derek Chauvin came back guilty and I believe that in this case, justice was served. This verdict shows that our system can work, but there is still a lot of work to be done at all levels. It is my hope that locally, we will use this moment to work together, start dialogue, and build relationships that will help build community and help to move Kalamazoo forward.”