Almost a year after George Floyd's death sent shockwaves around the world, a Minnesota jury returned a guilty verdict Tuesday in the trial of Floyd's killer, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
Chauvin killed Floyd last May after kneeling on his neck for over 9 minutes during an arrest. Video captured the entire ordeal as Floyd repeated the phrase "I can't breathe" to no avail from the arresting officer Chauvin or the other officers at the scene.
"George Floyd should be alive today," said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy in a statement released following the verdict. "While today's verdict provides some measure of justice and accountability, systemic racism is still pervasive in American life. We must continue to fight for justice."
The Tri-State area was rocked last summer by protests against police brutality and riots in the wake of Floyd's death. Local lawmakers on Tuesday afternoon expressed agreement that the Chauvin guilty verdict was a relief, and a step in the direction of racial justice, but not the end of the conversation amplified by Floyd's murder.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the verdict amounted to "the beginning" of real reforms in policing to "make a safer country for all Americans."
Chauvin was convicted of all three counts against him: second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He faces up to 40 years in prison for the second-degree murder charge.
While applauding the verdict, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker cautioned against the suggestion that Floyd got justice.
"True justice would be a country where George Floyd would still be alive today," he wrote via Twitter. "True justice demands action—it demands change & that we do everything we can to stop this from happening again & again & again."
"Our charge now is to channel this moment to make real, positive, and long-overdue change happen," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo added.
Floyd's family repeatedly called for peace, worrying publicly that a not-guilty verdict would result in more violent protests. George's brother, Philonise Floyd, told CNN he was relieved to hear of Chauvin's conviction.
NY Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wrote via Twitter that she hoped the verdict brought a "small measure of justice to Floyd's family," noting that "nothing can ease their pain or return him to them."
She continued, urging the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which many lawmakers hope will dismantle the systemic racism that leads to incidents like Floyd's killing.
NY Sen. Chuck Schumer echoed Gillibrand's comments, saying in his own statement that "The Senate will continue to work as we strive to ensure George Floyd's tragic death will not be in vain."
"We'll keep working for meaningful change," he added.
Chauvin will be sentenced in about eight weeks, according to the judge in his case.
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