Arizona officials and activists said now is the time to keep demanding accountability.
Former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin has been convicted of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, the explosive case that triggered worldwide protests, violence, and a furious reexamination of racism and policing in the U.S.
The jury reached its verdict Tuesday after deliberating about 10 hours over two days in a city on edge against another outbreak of unrest.
Floyd died last May after Chauvin, a white officer, pinned his knee on or close to the 46-year-old Black man’s neck for about 9 1/2 minutes.
The courthouse was 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 boarded up with plywood.
Floyd died last May after Chauvin, a 45-year-old now-fired white officer, pinned his knee on or close to the 46-year-old Black man’s neck for about 9 1/2 minutes as Floyd gasped that he couldn’t breathe and onlookers yelled at Chauvin to get off.
The jury, made up of six white people and six Black or multiracial people, weighed charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, with convictions on some, none or all of the charges possible. The most serious charge carries up to 40 years in prison.
The city has been on edge in recent days — not just over the Chauvin case but over the deadly police shooting of a 20-year-old Black man, Daunte Wright, in the nearby Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center on April 11.
Arizona Officials React to Verdict
Following the verdict, BLM Metro Phoenix posted a statement to Twitter saying that Floyd’s family can “finally move forward knowing his murderer cannot do this to any other person ever again.”
The verdict serves as a statement that state-sanctioned violence has consequences, they added.
“We will not stop until BLACK LIVES MATTER all over the country,” a third tweet continued.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey urged all Americans to “remain committed to ensuring something like this never happens again.” He then followed up by asking Arizonans to react to the news “peacefully & respectfully.”
Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said she hopes the verdict can help Floyd’s family find some peace.
Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel thanked the jurors for their service and said the country needs to continue to address inequality.
Rep. Raquel Terán, D-Phoenix, chair of the Arizona Democratic Party, said Americans must continue to stay vigilant and demand justice.
There is nothing that can heal the pain of losing a father, son, brother, and uncle,” she wrote in a statement. “It took the cries of mothers and the screams of fathers over centuries to get us to this point.”
Rep. Daniel Hernandez, D-Tucson said that—while the verdict won’t bring back Floyd—it’s a step in the right direction.
US Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-8 echoed the sentiment.
Rep. Tom O’Halleran, D-1, tweeted that, as a former police officer, he was happy to see Chauvin be held accountable by his peers.
Sen. Martin Quezada, D-Glendale praised the jury’s decision and encouraged elected officials to use this moment as an opportunity to bring further change by demanding accountability.
Rep. Randy Friese, D-Tucson, said in a tweet that lawmakers need to find the “courage and resolve” to enact “meaningful” police reform.
Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone tweeted, “Today, justice was served.”
Tempe Mayor Corey Woods wrote in a statement that the jury’s decision gives him “optimism that there is greater recognition in our justice system of of the disparate treatment that too often takes place in communities of color.”
And Tucson Mayor Regina Romero tweeted “the work to root out racism from all aspects of our society continues.”