Metro Weekly

LGBTQ organizations react to the guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin

NBJC, HRC, The Task Force, GLAAD, and the Victory Fund issued statements regarding the guilty verdict for the murder of George Floyd

George Floyd and Derek Chauvin

On Tuesday afternoon, April 20, 2021, former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted on all charges in the death of George Floyd.

He faces up to 40 years in prison for second-degree murder, up to 25 years for third-degree murder, and up to 10 years for second-degree manslaughter for kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes until Floyd lost consciousness.

The case is one of several in recent years involving the deaths of Black people, particularly young Black men, following confrontations with police, and served one of the primary catalysts for the ongoing nationwide debate over police accountability and the role that racial bias may play in law enforcement.

What follows are official reactions to the verdict issued by several major LGBTQ organizations:

David J. Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition:

“Today’s verdict is not about justice. Justice would be George Floyd being here to testify to his experience. Justice, as non-Black people know it, is not possible for Black people in America. Today’s verdict is a response to the question of whether Black Lives Matter in America. The United States, and the white supremacist regime that the police in this country represent, was on trial. 

Thankfully today, a jury affirmed that George Floyd’s life matters. Still, we must continue to guard our joy, pray for those most impacted, and remain focused on the work required to ensure that all of our Black Lives Matter. What we need is structural change. 

It is critical that as we celebrate a murderer being held accountable for taking the life of an innocent Black man that we do not lose sight of the work that was required to get to this moment. It says a lot about this country that the possibility of breathing as a Black man without fear of having our lives stolen is only possible when we pursue the necessary reforms to policy and practices that honor all Black lives….

This verdict does not change what many of us know to be true: a racist, anti-Black, unjust system can never deliver justice for our people. And it never kept us safe as it was not designed to. George Floyd should be here. We mourn as his family mourns, and support their efforts to find solace and accountability with this verdict. Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor and so many other members of our beautifully diverse community deserve to be here too. While we cannot bring them back we can commit to new and meaningful ways to keep our Black bodies and our communities safe.” (Click here to read the full statement.)

Alphonso David, President of the Human Rights Campaign:

“Today, humanity won over indifference. This verdict will not bring George Floyd back, but it does hold one officer accountable for the killing of one Black person. George Floyd’s story has inspired a movement around the world for racial justice. While we welcome exercising police accountability as a crucial step towards dismantling abusive, discriminatory policing, we also know that there is more work to be done to protect all Black lives. We should take a solemn moment to grieve with the Floyd family, as we pursue the systemic change necessary to end police killings of Black people and to remove the structures that support white supremacy from our society once and for all.”

Kierra Johnson, Executive Director, National LGBTQ Task Force:

“The world today saw accountability for the murder of George Floyd. Not justice, but accountability.

If only these same verdicts could apply to all the police officers we have watched walk free over the years after race-motivated killings, whether intentional or carried out with callous disregard for each precious life. We have and will continue to say their names. Feeling a mix of emotions, from relief to sadness to anger, we hold George Floyd’s family in our hearts and commit to continuing the work of dismantling racism and white supremacy, in his name and the names of so many others we have lost.

We must resolve to make Black Lives Matter in a country that has never lived up to that promise. In the end there can be no real justice when a Black or Brown person loses their life this way.

We each have a sacred duty to work for substantial reform of our law enforcement and justice systems, which are embodiments of structural racism. Today was a victory in the fight against structural racism, long overdue and something that should encourage all of us to continue the fight.”

Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President and CEO:

“The verdicts convicting Derek Chauvin deliver some accountability for his actions. They now must lead us toward greater safety and trust, especially for Black people, queer people of color and transgender people and youth who are disproportionately at risk of harassment, discrimination and violence, including violence by police. The deaths of George Floyd, Daunte Wright, Breonna Taylor, Adam Toledo and far too many others must motivate urgent change to address racial bias and prevent deadly force. Every American from a vulnerable community has a right to demand these necessary changes by protest, and the media must be free to cover these critically important social justice movements. Our hearts are with George Floyd’s family and all who grieve his loss throughout the traumatizing trial and beyond.”

LGBTQ Victory Fund:

“We are relieved that George Floyd’s killer was convicted for his actions, but this is one trial for one murder. True justice would be George Floyd returning home to his family last May and an erasure of the trauma caused by his death. True justice is an end to police killings of Black and Brown people and a national commitment to end systemic racism and white supremacy. But this is a step toward justice, and history proves these steps cannot be taken for granted. George Floyd has ignited a movement that continues to inspire and has forced many to look at themselves, and their country, more critically. Today is a step – one of many needed – on the long road to true justice for Black Americans.”

SAGE:

“Today’s jury verdict in the Derek Chauvin case brings a desperately needed — albeit insufficient — moment of justice in the brutal and senseless death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.  SAGE is an organization committed to building upon the legacy of LGBT pioneers who launched a movement by rebelling against police violence. We join with many other voices in lifting up and honoring this long-overdue moment of accountability and reckoning in response to anti-Black violence and racism….

This struggle for racial justice demands more than words. It demands action…. As our LGBT+ elder pioneers have taught us, we cannot remain neutral. We refuse to be invisible, and we refuse to be silent.”

Brian K. Bond, executive director of PFLAG National:

“A small step was taken with today’s guilty verdict, but the sad truth is that nothing will ever return George Floyd safely to his family, or make it possible for him to hug his child Gianna. This verdict is validation of the deep-rooted problem of systemic racism, but far from justice served. There is so much more work to be done.It only starts with this national conversation that has finally been elevated around policing and racism in this country — and it is incumbent upon all of us to be engaged. 

“George Floyd died at the hands of discrimination-based violence, that made his life less important for police to serve and protect than others. This is wrong and PFLAG National, along with hundreds of thousands of PFLAGers across the country, will continue to fight for the lives and rights of Black people and against systemic racism and bias-based violence.”

Paul Kawata, Executive Director of NMAC:

“NMAC is pleased that justice for George Floyd has been served. But this verdict is only one step in a still very long road. For more than 30 years, NMAC has led with race to end inequities in health care based on race. We remain committed to that mission and to end all racial inequities in American society.

Today’s verdict does not wipe out the pain and suffering that communities of color have endured for so many years but it may represent a turning point if we can dedicate ourselves to building a better future. NMAC believes in that future and we will do everything in our power to take us farther along that road.”

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Randy Shulman is Metro Weekly's Publisher and Editor-in-Chief. He can be reached at rshulman@metroweekly.com.

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