‘History has been made today:’ Nation reacts to guilty verdict in George Floyd’s death

Ex-cop Derek Chauvin found guilty on all 3 counts

Crowd chants at George Floyd's memorial upon hearing the verdict.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Reaction was swift Tuesday as former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty in the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died last summer with Chauvin’s knee pinned to his neck.

The jury deliberated for about 10 hours before they found Chauvin guilty of all three counts: second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

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Chauvin, who was wearing a mask, did not appear to react when the verdict was read and his bail was revoked.

A sentencing hearing will be held in eight weeks.

Across Central Florida, law enforcements leaders said they are prepared for any protests or demonstrations like the ones the region saw last year in the wake of Floyd’s death, calling for racial justice.

The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said they’re both monitoring the situation locally.

“I am committed to protecting the rights of all people to peacefully assemble or protest. That is a cornerstone of every American’s First Amendment right to free speech. But we cannot tolerate the destruction of property or violence against members of our community or law enforcement,” Orange County Sheriff John Mina said Monday. “We are not aware of any planned protests in Orange County Sheriff’s Office jurisdiction at this time. We are adequately prepared and staffed to ensure that everyone is safe and their right to free speech is protected.”

In Minneapolis outside Cup Foods, the store where Floyd was killed, members of the community gathered before the verdict was read and in the days leading up to the jury’s decision.

The courthouse where the trial took place is ringed with concrete barriers and razor wire, and thousands of National Guard troops and law enforcement officers were brought in ahead of the verdict. Some businesses were boarded up with plywood, the Associated Press reports.

Below are reactions and updates from across the country in the aftermath of the verdict.

10:00 p.m. Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon and Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma issue statement on Chauvin verdict

“Today’s guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin shows that he is being held accountable for his criminal actions. His actions were against the fundamental ethics, code of conduct, and the oath we take to both serve and protect. As a profession, it is important that we continue to advance and modernize how we police, and that we must continue to create real, meaningful relationships throughout our communities,” Sheriff Lemma said.

A statement from Sheriff Dennis Lemma: “Today’s guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin shows that he is being held accountable...

Posted by Seminole County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday, April 20, 2021

“Of course, I think for some members of the profession it hurts that they saw an individual who was meant to represent this honorable profession in the way that he did that ultimately rose to a level of a trial,” Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon said.

Chief Rolon said he believes in the country’s judicial process, and said he believes we should accept the outcomes of that process.

“We can show them that their concerns are not something that they should be worried about, that we have great men and women at the Orlando Police Department and the law enforcement community here in Central Florida are committed to serving and protecting people and treating them with dignity and respect,” he said.

8:56 p.m. - Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd reacts to Chauvin verdict

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd issued a statement on the Chauvin verdict.

“As I said at the time the video and facts came to light, had Mr. Chauvin done in Polk County what he did in Minneapolis, he would have been fired and arrested that night. Chauvin has had his day in court and he has been found guilty. That is our justice system at work. It’s not alright to violate the law. The jury has spoken. Chauvin is being held accountable,” Sheriff Grady Judd said.

7:50 p.m. - DOJ is limited in police probes

Calls have grown for federal investigations into police killings across the nation since President Joe Biden took office and said he believes racial disparities in policing must change.

But the U.S. Justice Department is still bound by the same laws that present a high bar for bringing federal charges. And that may leave victims’ families disappointed.

Still, the department is shifting its priorities to focus more on civil rights issues, criminal justice overhauls and policing policies. Attorney General Merrick Garland has declared there isn’t yet equal justice under the law.

7:40 p.m. - Attorney general says investigation is ongoing

“The jury in the state trial of Derek Chauvin has fulfilled its civic duty and rendered a verdict convicting him on all counts. While the state’s prosecution was successful, I know that nothing can fill the void that the loved ones of George Floyd have felt since his death. The Justice Department has previously announced a federal civil rights investigation into the death of George Floyd. This investigation is ongoing,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement.

7:15 p.m. - President Biden addresses the nation

President Joe Biden said George Floyd’s death was “a murder in the full light of day and it ripped the blinders off” for all the world to see the problems with race and policing in the U.S.

Biden, speaking after former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty Tuesday of murder in Floyd’s death last May, said the verdict can be a giant step forward for the country against systemic racism.

Biden is lauding the officers who testified in the trial instead of closing ranks and keeping quiet. He said the verdict sends a strong message, but reform can’t stop with just the verdict.

He said it is so important to ensure Black and brown people don’t fear interaction with law enforcement.

7:10 p.m. - Vice President Kamala Harris speaks

Vice President Kamala Harris said the nation still must work to reform the criminal justice system after a jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.

Vice President Kamala Harris said the nation still must work to reform the criminal justice system after a jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.

“A measure of justice isn’t the same as equal justice,” Harris said.

Harris spoke ahead of President Joe Biden. They both addressed the nation from the White House Tuesday hours after a jury returned the verdict against Chauvin for the killing of Floyd, whose death caught on camera touched off a reckoning on policing in America.

Before addressing the nation, Biden and Harris spoke by phone with members of the Floyd family. The president told the family that he and Harris were “so relieved” by the verdict, according to a video of the call posted on Twitter by Floyd family attorney Ben Crump.

6:55 p.m. - President Biden’s call to Floyd’s family released

Before the verdict was announced in Minneapolis, President Joe Biden said he was “praying the verdict is the right verdict” in the trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin.

Later he told the family of George Floyd in a phone call, “We’re all so relieved.”

Biden told reporters at the White House on Tuesday that he was only weighing in on the trial into the death of George Floyd because the jury in the case had been sequestered. He said he had called Floyd’s family on Monday.

Biden had repeatedly denounced Floyd’s death but had previously stopped short of weighing in on the trial itself.

6:53 p.m. - Explainer on the verdict

The 12 jurors who convicted Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd had three counts to consider and returned guilty verdicts on all three. Chauvin was charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s May 25 death.

The case came down to two key questions: Did Chauvin cause Floyd’s death and were his actions reasonable? Each charge required a different element of proof as to Chauvin’s state of mind. The jury reached the verdict on Tuesday.

6:35 p.m. - ‘Justice for George means freedom for all’

Philonise Floyd said he’ll continue fighting for others like his brother.

Philonise Floyd said he’ll continue fighting for others like his brother.

“Today you have the cameras all around the world to see and show what happened to my brother. It was a motion picture, the world seen his life being extinguished and I could do nothing but watch especially in that courtroom over and over and over again as my brother was murdered,” he said.

He brought up the case of Duante Wright, another Black man killed by an officer.

“He should still be here. We have to always understand that we have to march, we will have to do this for life. We have to protest because it seems like this is a never ending cycle,” Philonise Floyd said.

“Justice for George means freedom for all,” he concluded.

6:25 p.m. - FAMU looks forward to ‘workable solutions’

“At Florida A&M University we reaffirm our commitment to fairness, equity and justice. We are dedicated to educating and graduating students, like student leaders of the Tallahassee civil rights movement, Wilhelmina Jakes, Carrie Patterson and Patricia Stephens, who are willing to work tirelessly for a society in which African Americans and persons of color can espouse hope rather than harbor fear for their sons and daughters. The verdict today is not the end but could mark a new beginning as we endeavor to live in accordance with the ideals we have been taught and long prayed for but have not yet experienced.

“For more than 133 years, FAMU has been a beacon of light for those who seek to improve themselves and their communities. We stand ready to work with any willing partners to provide practical and workable solutions so we can bring everyone into the light of the American dream and out of the shadows that stifle us all,” FAMU president Dr. Larry Robinson said.

6:05 p.m. - George Floyd’s family reacts to verdict

George Floyd’s family members, attorney Benjamin Crump and Rev. Al Sharpton expressed their relief at the verdict during a news conference.

“We’re going to try to leave here today knowing that America is a better country,” Crump said. “America, let’s pause for a moment to proclaim this historical moment, not just for the legacy of George Floyd but for the legacy of America.”

6:05 p.m. - Volusia sheriff says ‘justice and accountability prevailed’

6 p.m. - ‘History has been made today and I am glad to see it’

J. Henry of J. Henry’s Barbershop in Orlando said there are many great police officers out there, including his wife of 19 years, but what Chauvin did was unacceptable.

“He got everything he deserved. That was not policing. It was his behavior that got him those three counts. Guilty, guilty, guilty. It was his behavior. It wasn’t policing, it was his behavior and I think that that should send a message throughout the world: If you are going to protect and serve your community, do your job and not violate people’s rights because their color and you think you can,” Henry said.

He said he hopes the verdict will spark change.

“History has been made today and I am glad to see it,” he said.

5:35 - ‘One down, many, many more to go’

CNN's Van Jones says the verdict in George Floyd's death is just the beginning.

Van Jones, a CNN host, started trending on Twitter for the comments he gave after the verdict was read.

Jones told Anderson Cooper, “One down, many, many more to go but I think about that young girl who brought out her cellphone and stood there in horror, not knowing what to do but just holding her phone steady. She did the right thing. All those community members who came and begged and pleaded and talked, they did the right thing. That EMT person did the right thing. When people called the police on the police, they did the right thing. When the police chief fired this man, he did the right thing. When people marched, they did the right thing. And part of what the message has to be is we have to get more involved. It started with that young girl, she got involved and then you had a community stand up and you had a governor step in and take the case and give it to Keith Ellison and make sure it was done the right way. This is the beginning of something, this is not the end of anything, this is the beginning of something.”

5:28 p.m. - Orlando Magic says work still needs to be done

5:26 p.m. - Minneapolis mayor says Floyd bettered city

5:22 p.m. - Rep. Stephanie Murphy says George Floyd should still be alive

5:17 p.m. - Orange County sheriff calls for calm

5:15 p.m. - Orange County mayor reacts

“We have all waited with great anticipation for the verdict in the trial involving the murder of George Floyd.

As a 40-year veteran of law enforcement, I am pleased with the jury findings and now look to the sentencing phase to determine if justice prevails.

We should remember that the majority of the men and women who protect and serve are good public servants who care about the welfare of their communities.

But when officers cross the line and commit criminal acts, they must be prosecuted no differently than the people they serve,” Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said.

5:10 p.m. - Floyd’s family cheers

Family members of George Floyd jumped and cheered as former officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty.

Video from CNN shows the moment George Floyd’s family heard the verdict.

5:10 p.m. - Cheering for guilty verdict

Crowds outside the courthouse cheered, chanted and hugged as Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts Tuesday afternoon. There were tears as they yelled, “Justice” and “George Floyd.”

5:09 p.m. - Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon asks that verdict be respected

5 p.m. - Former President Obama supports verdict

Former President Barack Obama says the conviction of ex-police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd was correct but only one step in the fight for justice.

He said in a statement that true justice requires Americans to understand that “Black Americans are being treated differently every day” and that millions live in fear that their next encounter with law enforcement could be their last.

Obama said the country needs to follow up on the verdict by taking concrete steps to reduce racial bias in the criminal justice system and to redouble efforts to expand economic opportunity in marginalized communities.

4:45 p.m. - Crowds gather outside George Floyd’s memorial

Crowd chants at George Floyd's memorial upon hearing the verdict.

Aerial footage shows hundreds of demonstrators anxiously awaiting the verdict near Floyd’s memorial outside Cup Foods in Minneapolis.

“There’s a lot of mixed feelings. It’s very emotional just being here knowing what took place. You’re right, there’s a lot anxiety as to how things will play out. I just hope there’s justice,” Wisconsin resident Tracy Hibbard told the Associated Press on Tuesday.

That was a common theme as demonstrators chanted, “No justice, no peace.”

“George Floyd has been on my mind a lot ever since he was killed but especially during the trial and knowing the jury is deliberating right now so I just wanted to pay some respects and say a prayer for justice and healing,” Sawyer Plotz, a Minneapolis resident, told the wire service.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.