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Keith Ellison: Minnesota AG says ‘true justice’ after Derek Chauvin verdict should bring ‘enduring’ change

·2 min read

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison delivered powerful remarks on the state of policing and justice in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and a jury’s verdict finding former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all three counts against him.

“George Floyd mattered,” Mr Ellison said on Tuesday during a press conference with prosecutors. “George Floyd mattered ... because he was a human being and there is no way we can turn away from that reality.”

He added: “I would not call today’s verdict justice, however, because justice implies true restoration, but it is accountability, which is the first step towards justice, and now the cause of justice is in your hands.”

The decision from Mr Ellison – the state’s first African American attorney general and a former progressive member of Congress – to take the lead on prosecuting the case was welcomed by civil rights advocates exhausted by a lack of accountability for the police killings of Black Americans.

Now-former Minneapolis police officer Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He could face up to 40 years in prison.

The verdict followed three weeks of testimony and nine hours of deliberation nearly one year after Mr Floyd’s death on 25 May, 2020, captured in painful video and galvanising an international protest movement to hold police accountable for the killings of Black people

A 12-person jury heard from 45 witnesses in total, including 38 from the prosecution and seven the defence. Of the jurors, six are white, four are Black and two are multiracial.

Mr Ellison praised “the people who stopped and raised their voices” following Mr Floyd’s murder on 25 May, 2020 as a “bouquet of humanity” after his death, captured in harrowing film that galvanised an international call for justice.

They “told the whole world the truth what they saw,” he said.

But “this verdict reminds us how hard it is to make enduring change,” Mr Ellison added, pointing to a legacy of police commissions that followed 20th century uprisings after the killings of Black Americans by police. The subsequent reports have created an “Alice in Wonderland” effect by returning to the same conclusions without accountability or reforms, he said.

“This has to end,” he said. “We need true justice.”

Mr Ellison said that justice would include a “social transformation that says no one is above the law and no one is below it,” with a legacy of “enduring, systemic, societal change.”

He said this generation’s work is to transform policing into “one that is empathetic, compassionate and affirming”, following a resounding verdict that has the potential to create a “powerful opening for new relationships and to shed old practices.”

“The work of our generation is to say goodbye to old practices that don’t serve us anymore,” he said.

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