‘Justice’: Florida political leaders react to Derek Chauvin guilty verdict
Image via AP.

The overwhelming sentiment: Justice.

The verdict from the murder trial of former Officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd is in: guilty on all three counts. 

The former officer was found guilty on the charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

After the judge announced the long-awaited verdict, Florida politicians flooded social media to respond.

Here’s is a running compilation of those reactions:

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, in response to a tweet from Sen. Shevrin Jones, shared gratitude to the members of the jury.

“Thank you, members of the jury for delivering justice — I hope this brings George Floyd’s family some solace. This is an important step towards accountability, but there’s still a whole lot of work to be done,” she said.

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, a potential 2022 gubernatorial candidate, released a statement saying, “There is still so much more we must do.”

“Derek Chauvin broke his promise to serve and protect the people of Minneapolis and for his actions, he has been held accountable,” Crist said in a statement .“We will and must continue to work towards a better, more just and equal tomorrow – where the color of our skin does not determine whether we get to live or die. I pray for the Floyd family, I pray for Minneapolis, and I pray for our nation. Justice has been served. May George Floyd rest in peace.”

Congressman Al Lawson of Tallahassee also praised the verdict, saying the criminal justice system “got it right.”

“Those who abuse their power and commit criminal acts must be held accountable,” Lawson said in a statement. “This trial has reopened deep wounds, and now our community must go through a period of healing. The guilty verdict was a victory for his family, for all those who peacefully marched in the streets, and for those who have lost loved ones to senseless violence.”

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, a Tampa Democrat, tweeted a single word, which echoed many following the trial: “Justice.”

U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park also tweeted, saying, “George Floyd should be alive today, and nothing can bring him back or erase the pain felt by those who loved him. But I believe this is a just verdict based on the evidence and I hope it brings a measure of solace to Mr. Floyd’s friends and family.”

U.S. Rep. Val Demings of Orlando shared that although justice prevailed, this is “not a happy day, because this day never should have happened.”

“George Floyd’s life mattered, and but for the tragic actions of Derek Chauvin, Mr. Floyd would be alive,” Demings said. “Law enforcement exists to uphold a sacred trust. I am grateful for the hundreds of thousands who remember their oath and do the job well every day. As we heal as a nation we must not rest. We must continue to have a sense of urgency to come together and work together with one purpose in mind: to do better.”

Hollywood Congresswomen Frederica Wilson posted, “I hope that during roll call tomorrow morning, chiefs around the nation will share with their officers guidance about how to better handle minor infractions to avoid tragedies like the ones that led to the cruel and needless murders of #GeorgeFloyd and #DaunteWright.”

North Florida Congressman Neal Dunn agreed with his colleagues that justice was served.

“Derek Chauvin broke the law, and now, he is being held accountable for his actions. I believe the jury made the right decision based on the evidence presented,” Dunn said. “It’s important to remember that the few do not represent the many and that there are far more positive things local law enforcement officers do for our communities than negative.”

South Florida Rep. Ted Deutch echoed his colleagues, saying “The jury has spoken. Justice has been served. We cannot tolerate the racial injustices that exist throughout our society.”

Aventura Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz tweeted, “Finally, justice was served on a clearly guilty police officer. But far too often, in cases involving police brutality against people of color, accountability can be frustratingly elusive.”

U.S. Rep. Darren Soto of Osceola County posted, “No family should ever have to go through the pain that George Floyd’s family experienced. Yet, in America, too many lives have been taken due to unlawful police violence. While this verdict is a start, we must continue pushing to pass the Justice in Policing Act.”
Former police officer Derek Chauvin is handcuffed before being removed from a Minneapolis courtroom.

Senate Democratic Leader Gary Farmer shared similar sentiments, tweeting, “Justice was served today, but this verdict does not wipe away the dark history of racism and injustice that plagues our country. We have a long way to go, but today was a very necessary step forward.”

Florida House Minority Leader Bobby DuBose, of Fort Lauderdale, said that efforts for justice must continue, and people “must continue to say their names and see their faces.”

“Why was I holding my breath and praying when the facts and evidence were clear? Although justice was served today, the next time I will still sit holding my breath and praying until systemic racism is eradicated from society,” DuBose said.

Broward County Democratic Sen. Perry Thurston, released a statement saying that “justice has been rendered.”

“It is my hope that those who would offer crackdowns on peaceful protestors instead of examining the reasons for those protests, heed the lessons contained in that judgment of guilt,” Thurston said in a statement. “Police officers are just as human as the rest of us. There are good officers and, unfortunately, a few bad ones among them. Silencing the outcries for justice when an officer goes rogue serves no one, and heightens the distrust between those in blue and those they have pledged to serve and protect.”

Jones, also a Broward County Democrat, shared an emotional message as a young Black man.

“The emotion, as a young Black man in this country, to have justice prevail in the Chauvin murder trial that has captivated the world’s attention is indescribable,” Jones said in a statement. “While millions of people breathe a sigh of relief for this accountability, there is still so much work to be done. What’s clear is that it is long past time to address systemic racism in this country, and I will continue to push for real reforms so that everyone can live safely without fear of harassment, discrimination, or being killed.”

Palm Beach Sen. Bobby Powell said in a statement that “It is hard to establish justice for all when a country designed to create a more perfect union divides us and constantly fails to provide for the common defense, welfare and the blessing of liberty for all. To truly form a more perfect union black lives must matter.”

Several other state senators took to Twitter to express their thoughts, including Sen. Janet Cruz, who called for justice “every day for our Black communities.”

Sen. Lauren Book said in a statement that she was “grateful justice has been served,” while also mourning the loss of Floyd.

“Policing is hard. So is being Black in America. One of those things is a choice, the other is not,” Book said in a statement. :I believe we need real, meaningful reforms that support those law enforcement officers doing the important work of keeping our communities safe and eliminate opportunities for those who abuse their positions of power.”

Rep. Tracie Davis responded to the news by saying, “While this verdict is the outcome that we wanted to hear, today is not just about George Floyd. This is about Emmett Till, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Daunte Wright…. Here in Florida, remember Harry and Harriette Moore, in Jacksonville Johnnie Mae Chappell and the countless others who were murdered and did not get the justice they deserved. Today is for them.

State Reps. Michele Rayner and Chris Latvala were also quick to tweet their thoughts. Rayner posted a series of tweets, saying “My spirit is conflicted. I’m happy and I’m sad. Because we should have a world where George Floyd should be alive.”

Latvala kept his words simple: “Justice has been served,” he said.

One lawmaker was apparently not pleased with the verdict. Lake County Republican Anthony Sabatini tweeted, “Mob justice,” in a nod to the trial.

Sabatini’s tweet received pushback, including from fellow state lawmaker Jones, who referenced Sabatini’s tweet, saying “White supremacists in 2021 wear suits and sit in the Florida Legislature. Yep, I said it.”

Florida’s former and current law enforcement officers are also reacting to the verdict.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, a 40 year veteran of law enforcement, said he was pleased with the verdict, and hopes justice prevails in Chauvin’s sentencing.

“We have all waited with great anticipation for the verdict in the trial involving the murder of George Floyd,” Demings said in a statement. “We should remember that the majority of the men and women who protect and serve are good public servants who care about the welfare of their communities. But when officers cross the line and commit criminal acts, they must be prosecuted no differently than the people they serve.”

Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony said that for the majority of law enforcement officials in this country, “this doesn’t come as a surprise,” and advocated for police reform in his own office.

“Chauvin’s conviction is a reminder to all who wear a badge that we are not above the laws which we swore to protect,” he said in a statement. “Chauvin’s lack of empathy and compassion and his brutality set off a firestorm across the world but moved the consciousness of America like never before. I am hopeful that Floyd’s death and the criminal trial will bring about continued positive change, social justice and equitable judicial outcomes for all people.”

Orange County Sheriff John Mina released a statement as well, calling the actions that resulted in Floyd’s death “indefensible, unexplainable and criminal.”

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said in a statement that “justice and accountability prevailed,” and called Chauvin a “textbook example of what happens when you lose your empathy and humanity.”

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected].

One comment

  • Johny Rebel

    April 20, 2021 at 10:59 pm

    He should not have been found guilty of all charges. He will win on appeal. The drugs in Floyd’s body killed him.

Comments are closed.


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