NY leaders react to Chauvin guilty verdicts

Apr 21, 2021

Leaders from across New York released statements Tuesday after a jury found former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murdering George Floyd.

Some of those statements follow:

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand:

“Today’s verdict delivers a small measure of justice to the family of George Floyd, but nothing can ever erase the pain of losing a loved one. Our nation remains in a moment of moral reckoning and we must take bold and decisive action. Congress must pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to address the systemic and institutional racism that plagues our criminal justice system and continues to lead to the deaths of countless Black Americans.”

Rep. Brian Higgins:

"Today, we have justice for George Floyd. Thinking of his family today as they continue to grieve. Long overdue progress in the fight for equal justice under the law continues."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo:

"The verdicts delivered today were a powerful statement of accountability. George Floyd's family and his loved ones got well-deserved closure, and all of us who deeply and personally felt his loss gained hope in the possibility of progress. But while I'm grateful that the jury returned these verdicts, accountability is not the same as justice. It doesn't make an unacceptable situation acceptable, and it doesn't bring Gianna's dad back. But it must fuel our continued march towards equity. Emmett Till. Medgar Evers. Rodney King. Amadou Diallo. Sean Bell. Trayvon Martin. Eric Garner. Michael Brown. Philando Castile. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. George Floyd. Daunte Wright. Adam Toledo. Our country has never fully lived up to its founding ideal, of liberty and justice for all. Still, our greatest attribute has always been our optimism, our belief in an ever better future, our faith in the strength of humanity. We saw that faith in streets across the country last summer and over the last 11 months. Our charge now is to channel our grief, our anger, our righteous energy, and make real, positive, and long-overdue change happen."

Attorney General Letitia James:

“Almost one year ago, the Floyd family and communities across this nation were torn apart by the murder of George Floyd. We all watched in helpless desperation as a man was mercilessly killed by the knee of a police officer. Today, there is finally accountability for this atrocious crime that stole the life of a father, brother, son, and friend. I pray that the Floyd family finds some semblance of justice and peace for this horribly unjust act. While true justice will never be served as long as Black men and women are subjected to such inequality, today, we are one step closer to a fairer system.”

State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins:

"While I’m heartened by this verdict and believe it’s an important step towards accountability, we must remember that this verdict is not true justice. True justice would mean that George Floyd would have walked away from that encounter alive. It would mean that he would be able to watch his daughter grow up. If we had true justice in this country, the kind that lives up to our ideals, countless other Black men and women wouldn’t see the same fate as George Floyd. While we cannot change the past, we can change what happens next. We can decide that we can no longer tolerate a policing system and a justice system that only serves some and not all. We can commit to real reform, to real justice, and to a better system of policing that truly keeps our communities safe instead of tearing them apart. My thoughts are with the Floyd family and the mostly Black and Brown families across this country who have lost a loved one to police violence.”

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie:

"George Floyd’s murder was a tragedy. It was a crime that the entire world witnessed on video over the course of nine minutes and 29 seconds. That Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all counts is important and it is right. But I also know we must continue to challenge the system that enabled his murder in the first place. George Floyd’s death was a turning point. Across our state, our country and indeed the world, people took to the streets to say no more to the systemic racism that costs the lives of our friends and neighbors. To say that those with power and authority must be held responsible for their actions. To demand that we rebalance the tilted scales of justice in our country. To say that Black Lives Matter. This verdict is a victory, but we cannot forget that George Floyd was more than a rallying call for a reckoning in our justice system – he was a man. He was a father and a brother, and his family will always feel his loss. They have endured this terrible tragedy with grace and dignity. My heart goes out to George Floyd’s friends and family. I hope this brings them a sense of justice, and that they can find strength and peace."

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz:

"In our legal system, justice is considered 'blind,' but it is not always served. Today, justice was served for George Floyd's murder. Hopefully this verdict is the beginning of real change for our nation, but Mr. Floyd is still dead. May his family find solace in this verdict."

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown:

"This historic verdict in the murder trial of ex-police officer Derek Chauvin will not bring George Floyd back, but for the Floyd family and for all Black lives, justice has prevailed. The small group of people that rendered three guilty verdicts today further demonstrates that Black Lives Matter. This murder has had a very deep and personal impact on so many, and while there is still so much work to be done and the need for much more change, this is a verdict for all of those who have dedicated themselves to racial justice through peaceful protest."

Buffalo NAACP:

"The fight for justice is not over! We must continue to stay vigilant in the pursuit of police accountability and continue to demand #PoliceReformNOW."

Black Love Resists in the Rust:

"Today Derek Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third degree murder, and second degree manslaughter. While this is the outcome many hoped for, we acknowledge that the indictment of Derek Chauvin does not equal police accountability, nor does it mean communities across Minneapolis will be safer. Derek Chauvin is not just an officer who instituted unnecessary and extreme force, killing George Floyd, but he represents a policing system, from Buffalo to Oakland, built on a culture of violence toward Black, brown, and poor community members. Years of police reforms have failed. Even this trial failed to prevent police from killing Duante Wright or murdering Adam Toledo. Justice for George, Duante, Adam, and the countless others cannot truly be served unless we divest from outsized police budgets and reallocate those funds into programs and services that build up Black and brown communities. We must remove police from traffic enforcement and end their responses to calls regarding mental health and substance use. We must decrease the footprint of police in Black and brown communities and schools, truly redefine safety, and reimagine security."

Buffalo Catholic Diocese Bishop Michael Fisher:

“Today’s verdict of accountability in the tragic killing of George Floyd is an important step in healing the deep wounds of racial tension caused by his senseless killing. The agonizing images of his confrontation with those sworn to protect and serve, and the final moments of life, will forever challenge us and must always compel us to create a more compassionate and just society, where all enjoy equal rights and protections under the law.   I implore all who wish to demonstrate to do so peacefully and in ways that lead to greater understanding, dialogue and meaningful change. We pray for the family and community of George Floyd that our loving and compassionate God will ease their pain and provide them comfort.”

SUNY Board of Trustees and Chancellor Jim Malatras:

“The jury in the Minneapolis court has made its decision, and we hope the family of George Floyd may find some sense of closure. The divide that was laid bare by this tragedy in our nation doesn’t go away with today’s verdict. It is, though, yet another reminder to address and tackle issues of racial inequity and discrimination with even more determination. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.’ We want our students, faculty, and staff to know that our campuses will be a place of safe harbor from hate and discrimination. Also know that there are dedicated resources at SUNY here or on our campuses for our students who want to speak with someone. We will continue to do all we can to eliminate cultural, institutional, and regulatory racial discrimination. That is SUNY’s promise to our students, and in doing so we will be transparent and inclusive. Our students are leaders, and with their voice we move forward.”