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Guilty Verdicts in Chauvin Case Give Hope, Local Leaders Say

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By Jorge Casuso

April 20, 2021 -- Santa Monica Police were out in force Tuesday as the jury in the Derek Chauvin murder trail reached a guilty verdict that triggered street parties instead of protests across the nation.

SMPD posted on its Twitter page that the Department had been notified at 12:30 p.m. Pacific Time that a verdict had been reached.

"Your police department is steadfastly committed to you and your safety and accordingly, we remain in contact with our regional partners and have activated our pre-planned tiered response," police wrote.

"You will continue to see a strong presence of uniformed police personnel throughout the city.

"We urge our community to remain calm and peaceful. It is imperative that our community remain vigilant at all times," the post said.

Chauvin, a White police officer, was found guilty of murder in the death of George Floyd, a Black man suspected of using a counterfeit $20 bill at a Minneapolis convenience store last Memorial Day.

The disturbing video of the killing -- which showed Chauvin pressing down on Floyd's neck with his knee until he was no longer breathing -- sparked protests nationwide.

By contrast, Tuesday's verdicts -- which found Chauvin guilty of second- and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter -- was greeted with relief and joy.

Mayor Sue Himmelrich said the guilty verdict "gives Americans hope in our justice system."

But she added that "it does not change the history of injustice in our country, nor does it ease the pain we feel for the senseless murder of George Floyd and far too many Black, Indigenous and people of color.

"We learned with this verdict that when our justice system functions as it should, twelve citizens can and will reach a just result.

"But this is just a waystation in our longer and tougher journey in pursuit of equality and justice for all. Let us push onward together."

School District Superintendent Ben Drati also issued a statement to parents, guardians, staff and community members expressing hope.

"This is a very emotional event that will reverberate around the country and world," Drati wrote.

"The journey we have gone through with the killing, the world’s reaction, and trial, is something we will hold close to our hearts and minds for decades to come.

"I hope this creates awareness and much-needed resolve in addressing racism," Drati wrote.

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said the jury "delivered accountability, but the future of equality rests squarely in America’s hands.

"This verdict is a critical step in the ongoing march toward restoring public trust in a criminal justice system that over-criminalizes communities of color and often fails to hold law enforcement accountable for misconduct," Gascón said.

"Effective policing must be fair and just to enhance our collective safety. We must continue to work together to build a justice system that promotes equal access to justice for all.”

The Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis also issued a statement after the verdict.

"We would like to thank the jury for their dedicated work and we understand they had an enormous burden. We also want to reach out to the community and still express our deep remorse for their pain, as we feel it every day as well," the statement said.

"There are no winners in this case and we respect the jury’s decision. We need the political pandering to stop and the race baiting of elected officials to stop.

"In addition, we need to stop the divisive comments and we all need to do better to create a Minneapolis we all love," the union wrote.

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