Central Valley, state leaders react to Derek Chauvin trial verdict

California

Families pay their respects at George Floyd Square, after the fifth day of the trial for Derek Chauvin, who is facing murder charges in the death of George Floyd, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., April 2, 2021. REUTERS/Octavio Jones

FRESNO, California (KSEE/KGPE) — On Tuesday a jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.

Reaction for local leaders and officials began pouring in once the verdict was announced.

Sen. Alex Padilla

Today’s verdict represents the promise of our justice system: that power cannot protect an offender, and that every victim deserves justice, regardless of the color of their skin. Too often, communities of color have been denied this promise.

Police officers’ disproportionate use of force against people of color is a stain on our nation. The list of Black and Brown Americans killed by law enforcement and denied accountability in court is abhorrently long.

I stand with the community of Minneapolis, the Black Lives Matter movement, and millions of Americans in mourning the murder of George Floyd by Officer Derek Chauvin. And I know that true justice will require work far beyond this verdict. Accountability for police officers should be an expectation, not an aberration. It is past time to reform our justice system to recognize at every level that Black lives matter.

CSU Chancellor Joseph Castro

Dear Colleagues:

I am writing today with regard to the verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Like so many others, I am relieved that the jury found Mr. Chauvin guilty on all counts, and I hope this action will provide George Floyd’s family with some solace – a measure of relief that justice has been served in this tragic case.

The horrific death of Mr. Floyd – and the trial itself – have been traumatic experiences for many African Americans and other people of color within the CSU community and across the state and nation. The trauma is rooted in generations of systemic racism in our country, which has had a profoundly negative impact on African American families. 

Last Sunday, I read Jonathan Capehart’s opinion piece in the Washington Post titled “Being Black in America is exhausting.” His moving and insightful article detailed the many ways that he and other African Americans must constantly consider how they are being perceived by others, because these perceptions – often misperceptions – could result in them being blamed for something, or even being killed. I recommend the article to all who are reflecting on this poignant moment, especially those of us who are not African American.

I believe that America is yearning for an inflection point, one that marks a turn toward healing, reconciliation and recovery. The CSU can serve as that inflection point. Our position as the largest and most diverse public university in the nation also makes us the most consequential university at this critical moment in our country’s history. We lead the nation in driving social mobility for our students, yet there is much more work to do. The CSU is part of an educational ecosystem in California that must eliminate – once and for all – equity gaps among our students and prepare more African American students for admission to and graduation from the CSU and other universities.

I urge all of us in the CSU to actively embrace anti-racist policies and practices, and to be courageous in modifying policies and practices that we discover have a disparate negative impact on people of color. This will not happen overnight, but we must do this work with an even stronger sense of urgency.

We will forever remember George Floyd. And Breonna Taylor. And Daunte Wright. And, heartbreakingly, so many others like them. May their tragically shortened lives inspire us to work more closely together to advance equity in all its dimensions – and to ensure that every one of us has an opportunity to thrive in the CSU and across our Golden State.

As your chancellor, I want every African American student, faculty, staff, alumnus and family member to know that I stand alongside you today and every day. Because of the strong and unbreakable bonds that unite the CSU community, because of all those who support us, and because of our unwavering commitment to our core values, I am confident that our very best days lie ahead.

Gov. Gavin Newsom

The hard truth is that, if George Floyd looked like me, he’d still be alive today. No conviction can repair the harm done to George Floyd and his family, but today’s verdict provides some accountability as we work to root out the racial injustice that haunts our society. We must continue the work of fighting systemic racism and excessive use of force. It’s why I signed some of the nation’s most progressive police reform legislation into law. I will continue working with community leaders across the state to hear concerns and support peaceful expression.

Rep. Jim Costa

Justice has been served for George Floyd and I pray that today’s verdict brings peace to his family and loved ones. This is a difficult time for our nation. We must move forward and engage with one another to address systemic racism within our communities and improve the culture of policing. Let us use this verdict as an opportunity to learn from this tragic experience. This is how we build a more just America for one and all.

Fresno State Interim President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval

While the trial has concluded with a guilty verdict, we must resist the temptation to turn the page, content that some level of justice has been brought. This verdict acknowledges the egregious violence done to George Floyd — it draws a line stating that this particular action went too far — but it does not address other violent practices that come near, but do not cross, this newly-identified threshold. While this moment of accountability is important, we must still continue to push for equitable institutions and practices — ones that resist unjustified uses of power.  While promising, the work of the jurors in this trial does not suffice to create a better society, nor does it ensure that injustices, including other needless deaths, will not continue to occur. 

Graphic images of Mr. Floyd’s despairing final moments have traveled all over the world, as his death has prompted a much-awaited call for change. These images are now part of our collective memory — a memory that ignites emotion while signaling our duty to reflect and promote values worthy of the multicultural and multiracial America we all love. As the premier educational institution of the region, it is our duty to promote a deeper understanding of the ways history and race have shaped dynamics of power and affected people of color in our country. How can our disciplines enable awareness and improvement?  How can we learn from others’ perspectives and disciplines, to cultivate empathy and appreciation for the viewpoints and lived experiences of those like and unlike ourselves?  How can we engage in practices that lead to more equitable systemic outcomes?  Our task is to seek answers to these and many more questions, as we take a holistic approach to forging a stronger Valley.

I want to encourage students who need additional support during this difficult time to seek services available at the Student Health and Counseling Center, by calling 559.278.2734 or by visiting during business hours, and checking the center’s website for information on after-hours care, or the Let’s Talk service. Staff and faculty may contact our Employee Assistance Program if they are in need of support. Then, consider the steps you can take to build respect, understanding and appreciation for our diverse communities, their trials and tribulations and their enduring contributions.  

This trial is over, but our efforts to create a more just society and campus are anything but complete. At Fresno State, we must be more committed than ever to creating an equitable environment and an anti-racist culture that permeates all levels of our campus community.  

Frenso Police Chief Paco Balderrama

The verdict does not bring Mr. Floyd back, and it does not lessen the pain and trauma felt by many across our country. However, we must move forward with criminal justice reforms in our country. Many of which have already begun here in Fresno following the 73 Recommendations made by the Police Reform Commission in late 2020. We, as a profession, must learn from our past mistakes, and take a progressive view at how to better serve our communities.

Our focus must be on protecting the public from violent crime, holding those accountable for their actions, creating trust with the community, and performing our duties with professionalism, humility and compassion.

Policing in America will never be the same, it must be better. Community partnerships, accountability, and transparency are important keys to building trust with those we serve.

The men and women of the Fresno Police Department are committed to making improvements across the board and leaving no stone unturned in becoming one of the best law enforcement agencies in California.

Fresno EOC CEO Emilia Reyes

We have lived a year of devastation as social unrest, random acts of violence, and bigotry have taken their toll on the hearts of many in our community. I, like many of you, have followed the Chauvin trial, hoping to see justice. Today is the day where we have a win in the massive fight for social justice.

As a Community Action Agency, racial equity and social justice are at the forefront of our work. Right now, we are celebrating this verdict as a win for people everywhere. However, the battle is far from over. We need to elevate this moment to push for real change, systemic change, and the push for reforming police policies of this nation and holding people accountable for their actions in the pursuit of justice for everyone who has felt grief and pain at the hands of police brutality.

George Floyd’s life mattered, as do all of the lives taken and affected by police brutality.

As Fresno EOC was born from the Civil Rights Movement, we will continue to fight alongside you, our partners, and the community. We will continue to advocate for change, show up when instances of systemic racism and police brutality within the criminal justice system, speak up for racial equity and be an active partner in this fight with all of you. You matter, and your children matter.

Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims

The jury in the Derek Chauvin trial had the very difficult job of listening to all of the evidence and came to the decision announced on Tuesday. Now that this case has been decided, we must remain resolved to continue to listen our communities and build relationships to ensure fair and just public safety.

The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office will support everyone’s right to express their 1st Amendment right to lawfully assemble and peacefully express themselves.  We will not tolerate violence that steals the message from those who want their voices to be heard with valid concerns.

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