A jury’s decision to convict former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin of murder in the death of George Floyd brought swift praise from leaders in the Triangle and North Carolina.
Those who released statements or posted on social media celebrated the verdict. After a two-week trial, the Minnesota jury took less than a day to find that Chauvin was guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Morrisville Police Chief Patrice Andrews shared her thoughts almost as soon as the verdict was issued.
“Justice has been served,” tweeted Andrews, who is Black. “There is still more work to do but we now know that our voices are heard. History was made today!”
Raleigh City Council member Jonathan Melton was also quick with a tweet. “GUILTY,” Melton wrote. “As we all saw with our own eyes last year.”
Hillsborough Mayor Jennifer Weaver tweeted: “Our breath is so precious. George Floyd should still have his.”
Chantal Stevens, executive director of the ACLU of North Carolina, called the verdict “a rare act of police accountability.”
“We must recognize that the murder of a Black man by the hands of a police officer was not an isolated incident,” Stevens said in a written statement. “Until we address systemic problems that lead to police abuse of power, disparate treatment, and excessive force against Black and Brown communities, what happened in Minneapolis could just as easily happen in Mooresville or Mebane.”
Shelia Alamin-Khashoggi, chair of Raleigh’s police advisory board, called the verdict a first step toward lasting change.
“We are glad for the victory; we are glad for the jury, but we have a long road ahead toward changing policy in our city,” Alamin-Khashoggi said. “We are hoping that we can move forward from here and be able to change some of those policies that affect our Black and brown communities.”
Dawna Jones, president of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP, was in a Zoom meeting with other elected and community leaders when the verdict came in.
“It’s hard to feel good about the verdict, because two lives were lost to something small and senseless,” Jones said. “I wish I felt relief, but I don’t. I feel still angsty and overwhelmed, and I feel like there’s nothing that could really be justice in a case like this. But I do at least appreciate that the jury understood what we all saw, what his family members saw in that video. So many times before, we have seen juries go the other way even with the same type of evidence, so there is some sense of justice in that.”
N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore, a Republican, issued a statement that said the jury had spoken.
“The criminal justice system worked and former Officer Chauvin has been convicted,” Moore wrote. “I pray for peace for the victim’s family and that we all take this opportunity to come together as a nation and not allow ourselves to be divided.”
Before the verdict was broadcast shortly after 5 p.m., some Triangle leaders voiced concerns about how the public might react. Speaking at the end of a City Council meeting, Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin said:
“I want everyone to know we have been busy. We assembled a team of key operating departments to work in close collaboration with the Raleigh Police Department to monitor this evolving situation. I would also like to ask that anyone who plans to demonstrate in our city please come in peace and I hope that we can all pray together for that.”
Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker voiced similar concerns.
“Everyone is making operation plans to keep some of those bad things from happening and provide a safe atmosphere for protesters and marchers,” Baker said. “We are trying to get ahead of things to make sure people are safe.”
This is a developing story and will be updated.