We Must Now Collectively Speak Up for All of Us
Editor’s Note: Across the nation, many shared their thoughts regarding the April 20th conviction of former police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd.
The King Center
“No, no, we are not satisfied and will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.” –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Today [April 20], a jury of 12 found Derek Chauvin guilty of Second-Degree Murder, Third-Degree Murder and Second-Degree Manslaughter in the death of George Floyd. Only in América can a Black person be callously murdered on video for the world to see, then be vilified, dehumanized, and faulted for his own murder. Although Chauvin was found guilty, this nation still faces an arduous journey toward implementing the demands of justice.
Our hearts go out to George Floyd’s family and to the families and communities across this nation who have been violated by an institution designated by badges to “protect and serve.” As with other institutions and systems in this nation, law enforcement’s practices and policies so often dehumanize and perpetuate destruction of Black and Brown lives. We recognize that there are many facets to ending systemic and overt racism, including the criminal justice system. “Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream,” we will immerse ourselves in the work of love-centered, strategic, nonviolent deconstruction of injustice and construction of public safety that engages all human beings, with dignity, equity and compassion. We still believe this is not only possible, but that we can, as Dr. King said, “organize our strength into compelling power so that the government [and other power constructs] cannot elude our demands.”
The King Center was established in 1968 by Mrs. Coretta Scott King, wife of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette
What happened to George Floyd should never happen to anyone in this country ever again. Based on the evidence presented at trial, I believe the jury made the right decision in this case. While today’s verdict is a much-needed win in our battle for justice, there is still so much more work that needs to be done to end the violence that too many Black Americans have experienced at the hands of our police.
Today’s decision should send a clear message to all those who swear to protect and serve our communities that no one in this county is above the law. My hope is that today’s verdict will be a turning point in our nation’s history and helps bring us together to enact the changes that our country so desperately needs.
Congresswoman Diana DeGette represents Colorado’s District 1.
U.S. Rep Jason Crow
I join the Floyd family and their loved ones in celebrating this verdict, but I know that no verdict can bring back their precious brother, father, and friend. Accountability is no substitution for his life and real justice would be George Floyd being alive today.
Our communities hurt for George Floyd, Daunte Wright, Elijah McClain, Breonna Taylor, and so many other Black men and women who’ve had their lives cut short as a result of a racist system.
This pain is bigger than one trial in Minneapolis can heal. We must tackle the systemic racism that is embedded in our criminal justice system, our government, and every facet of our society head-on.
Congressman Jason Crow represents Colorado’s District 6.
The accountability of one police officer does not equal the accountability to an entire system.
While we feel some sense of relief that Derek Chauvin is being held accountable for the murder of George Floyd, we know that the systemically racist system under which we live still denies justice for far too many Black and Brown men, women, and children who have been killed or had their lives forever harmed by police brutality. Until we see the end of unnecessary police violence against Black and Brown lives, and live in a system where Black lives truly matter, we must take action to fundamentally change our society so that equal justice under the law is truly equal justice under the law and doesn’t just apply to just one skin tone.
The accountability of one police officer does not equal the accountability to an entire system. It took one brave person with a camera and millions of brave people marching in the streets to hold Derek Chauvin accountable. We must now collectively speak up for all of us, no matter our skin color, or the zip code in which we live, or the amount of money in our pockets. We must speak up and take on the structural, institutional racism and inequities that have been built into the fabric of our country. We will work with our local associations and allies for however long it takes to ensure this happens.
Amie Baca-Oehlert, high school counselor and president of the Colorado Education Association.
State Rep. Leslie Herod
This verdict represents accountability. It is not justice. True justice would mean George Floyd was still with us today. That he could hold his loved ones and that the world never had to learn his name. True justice will come when we don’t have to hesitate every time we turn on the news in case another video of state sanctioned murder should flash upon our screen. Today, we stand together and say ‘no more’. We will bring change. We will advance justice. And we will not rest until we end the police brutality that is taking innocent Black and Brown lives in our communities and across our country.
State Rep. Leslie Herod is the Chair of the Colorado Black Caucus.
Denver Chief of Police Paul M. Pazen
I respect the judicial process and hope this verdict allows our community and nation to begin to heal.
Since the horrific killing of George Floyd, the Denver Police Department has listened and learned from our community and continues working to build relationships where we demonstrate how we value those we serve.
We remain committed to finding the best ways to ensure policing in Denver is safe and equitable for all. I believe we have made meaningful progress in the nearly 11 months since his death, but there is more work to be done. Working together as a community is essential to reaching those goals.
Denver Chief of Police Paul M. Pazen serves as Denver’s Chief of Police.
Colorado Latino Caucus
The murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 and the conviction of ex-officer Derek Chauvin, for his murder shine a light on the need to continue to make advancements on police accountability. The Colorado Democratic Latino Caucus continues to grieve with Mr. Floyd’s family, the Black community, and Americans who have unwaveringly called for justice and systemic change. The Latino Caucus recognizes and is committed to addressing these systemic injustices through state policy. The Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity Bill, SB20-217, introduced by members of the Colorado Democratic Latino Caucus and Black Democratic Legislative Caucus of Colorado was signed into law in June 2020, that bill was only the beginning of our efforts to address the deep-rooted and historically-seeded racial injustices in criminal justice and law enforcement. We stand strong in our commitment to holding our law enforcement to the highest standards.
We also call on Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet to take action at the federal level and to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and awaiting consideration by the U.S. Senate. That legislation would take action at all levels of government to address injustice in policing. We must all do our part to make real change to honor the life of George Floyd.
Colorado Democratic Latino Caucus members: State Representative Serena Gonzales-Gutiérrez, State Representative Monica Durán, State Representative Adrienne Benavidez, State Representative Alex Valdez, State Representative Bri Buentello, State Representative Yadira Caraveo, State Representative Sonya Jaquez Lewis, State Representative Donald Valdez, State Representative Kerry Tipper, State Senator Robert Rodríguez, State Senator Julie Gonzales, State Senator Leroy García, State Senator Dominick Moreno.
Black, Indigenous, People of Color deserve to stay alive when we encounter a police officer.
Colorado Latino Forum
George Floyd should be alive today. Today’s conviction of guilty on all counts – second degree murder, third degree murder, and second degree manslaughter – for his murderer, Derek Chauvin, former Minneapolis Police Officer, is only the precipice for justice. We commend the jurors for this verdict as this is only the precipice of true and whole justice for George Floyd’s life, his loved ones, survivors, and many countless lives lost at the hands of police officers nationwide.
George Floyd was murdered cold-heartedly by Derek Chauvin. It was the weight of Derek Chauvin’s body on George Floyd’s neck for those nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds that took Floyd’s life, but it was also the weight of racist policing in our nation. We have not faced our history and corrected the errors of the past by reforming the systems of the present, especially our policing and justice systems. We live in a nation where our police and justice systems are engineered to uphold and perpetuate white supremacy. We have much work to do in dismantling racism within these systems.
In Colorado, we must honor the life of George Floyd by continuing the fight for the abolition of a racist policing system, police accountability and reform which includes but is not limited to:
-Use of body cameras that cannot be turned off by officers
-Practices that eliminate unnecessary interaction with police in our communities
-Significant reduction of police officers in our communities
-Re-training of police officers away from “shoot first” practices
-Clearer transparency in policing discipline practices and decision process for officers who use force excessively and inappropriately
-Tougher consequences for officers who their power
The BIPOC communities demand reform on all levels including defunding the police and military to fund the following and more:
-Trauma-informed, multi-lingual, comprehensive mental health programs
-Community-based public safety programs
-Crisis mediation and violence prevention programs
-Programs to eliminate homelessness
-Strengthen protections for immigrant communities from police and ICE
-Restorative and transformative practices throughout courts systems
-Decriminalize petty infractions – jaywalking, public intoxication, riding scooters, bicycles
Black, Indigenous, People of Color deserve to stay alive when we encounter a police officer. We should not have to fear or be murdered unjustly by police. There is no justification for Derek Chauvin murdering George Floyd on May 25, 2020. May he rest in power. Our hearts go out to Floyd’s loved ones.
Colorado Latino Forum board of directors.
Dolores Huerta & Camila Chávez
While we breathe a collective sigh of relief, the solutions our communities need must be based in collective action and policy. Transformational solutions are rooted in true people power with the enactment of social, racial and economic justice policies. It will require civic engagement, advocacy and accountability of our public officials to end systemic racism. Millions across our country and around the world marched in protest to denounce Mr. Floyd’s murder. The marching and non-violent organizing must continue as we grieve the ongoing slayings of Black and Brown people at the hands of the police. While we pause to honor the pain of George Floyd’s family today, our commitment to our Black, Indigenous People of Color communities is an explicit promise to work together to end justice.
Dolores Huerta is the Founder of the Dolores Huerta Foundation. Camila Chávez is the Executive Director of the Dolores Huerta Foundation.
We will not stop until the police stop killing us, and justice is truly served.
Today, a jury found former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin guilty for the brutal murder of George Floyd, nearly one year after his death. This verdict delivers a semblance of justice for many, including George Floyd’s family and loved ones, and the millions across the globe who bore witness to Floyd’s murder via video.
In the context of our long history of police impunity, particularly in relation to harm inflicted against Black people and people of color, we are encouraged by this guilty verdict holding former officer Chauvin accountable for his heinous crime in a court of law. However, today’s verdict cannot bring George Floyd back–or Daunte Wright, or Adam Toledo, or Breonna Taylor, or Erik Salas Sánchez, or Daniel Saenz, or Daniel Ramírez, or any of the 984 people who have been killed by the police over the past year in our country.
For the loved ones of the people we have lost at the hands of those who are charged to ‘protect and serve’ us, and for members of Black and Brown communities who are disproportionately the victims of rampant police violence and forced to constantly relive this collective trauma, a guilty verdict is not enough.
In order to achieve true justice and build safe communities, we must continue holding law enforcement and our government accountable, demanding transparency and oversight, and, most importantly, working to dismantle the systemic racism and bias permeating policing institutions–from local police to federal immigration enforcement departments.
The Border Network for Human Rights (BNHR) will continue to work with our allies in the Black community to demand transformative change to our policies and institutions and fight against the over-policing and militarization of our communities. Just as we did throughout the course of the pandemic, we will continue marching for justice, putting pressure on our elected officials, and holding our leaders accountable, including by bringing about accountability and oversight to the El Paso Police Department. We will not stop until the police stop killing us, and justice is truly served.
Fernando García, executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights.
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