Maryland’s elected officials voiced strong support for the guilty verdict handed down Tuesday against the former Minneapolis police officer who murdered George Floyd, although some said the conviction was just one step in a long journey toward justice.
Derek Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after the white officer pressed his knee against the Black man’s neck for more than nine minutes, killing Floyd on May 25, 2020. Video of the incident seared the nation.
Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, a Democrat, said there is more work left to be done “to build an inclusive system that truly works for everyone.”
My heart goes out to the loved ones of George Floyd, and I hope they find some healing in today’s verdict. Regardless of this decision, more work remains to prove once and for all that Black lives matter in America.
Full statement below. pic.twitter.com/T4CSsqsy12
— Brandon M. Scott (@MayorBMScott) April 20, 2021
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, said on Twitter that “justice has now been served” but that “we still have a long way to go to live up to our nation’s highest ideals.”
The senseless murder of George Floyd served as yet another reminder that we still have a long way to go to live up to our nation’s highest ideals.
Justice has now been served, and we hope that this verdict will bring some measure of peace to the Floyd family and the community.
— Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) April 20, 2021
However, many of those who replied to the tweet noted that Hogan has shown far more support for police officers. Some re-circulated a photo of the governor standing in front of a “Thin Blue Line” flag associated with the “Blue Lives Matter” movement that was started to counter the “Black Lives Matter” movement, and critics say the flag is a white supremacist symbol.
Twitter users also reminded Hogan that he had vetoed three police reform bills that the General Assembly passed this legislative session.
Lawmakers ultimately overrode Hogan’s vetoes of those bills, including legislation to implement a statewide use of force policy, require the provision of body-worn cameras, provide mental health assistance, increase transparency and access to officer misconduct records under the Maryland Public Information Act, and replace the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of rights with a new process for disciplining officers.
U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat who represents Maryland, said the nation must “move urgently to defeat systemic racism in all its forms.”
The jury has reached a just verdict. But nothing will bring back George Floyd or all those who should still be alive. We must move urgently to defeat systemic racism in all its forms and the Senate must pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.https://t.co/gaO5XpYD8J
— Senator Chris Van Hollen (@ChrisVanHollen) April 20, 2021
Van Hollen and U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, also a Democrat representing Maryland, both urged Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. The police reform package includes bills seeking to prohibit police from using racial and religious profiling and to adopt accountability measures aimed at reducing misconduct.
“At this moment, my thoughts are with the Floyd family and this personal moment of justice, as well as with every family of color that has watched video after video and pictured their child or family member as the next victim of excessive force or profiling. This deadly cycle cannot keep repeating itself,” Cardin said in a statement.
America’s justice system may be far from perfect, but it can still deliver. George Floyd did not need to die. Derek Chauvin’s use of force was far beyond anything that should be acceptable anywhere in this country. The officer’s guilt was unequivocal. https://t.co/7My8okBmVi
— Senator Ben Cardin (@SenatorCardin) April 20, 2021
As a nation, we must do more to ensure basic human rights are protected always, even if a person is suspected of a crime. We must fundamentally reform our thinking &systems so individuals are not assumed suspects because of the color of their skin #GeorgeFloydJusticeInPolicingAct
— Senator Ben Cardin (@SenatorCardin) April 20, 2021
Like others, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. said Maryland must pass legislation at the local and state level to implement police reform and “ensure these incidents will no longer be a part of our reality.”
Moving forward, it must be our mission to ensure these incidents will no longer be a part of our reality.
— County Executive Johnny Olszewski (@BaltCoExec) April 20, 2021
Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman said Tuesday’s verdict demonstrates “accountability in action.”
Today’s verdict represents the culmination of a long grieving process, one in which we are seeing accountability in action. As I was last year in standing with our community & public safety leaders, I remain committed today to building trust between the community and the police.
— County Executive Steuart Pittman (@AACoExec) April 20, 2021
Despite the conviction of Chauvin, Baltimore City Councilman Zeke Cohen (District 1) said there is little cause for celebration.
“It’s not just Derek Chauvin who was found guilty. Our entire criminal justice system is indicted. This verdict won’t bring back Freddie. Or Trayvon. Or Breonna. Or George,” Cohen tweeted, referring to Freddie Gray, Trayvon Martin, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. “Until the agents of our government stop murdering Black people, there is very little to celebrate.”
It’s not just Derek Chauvin who was found guilty. Our entire criminal justice system is indicted. This verdict won’t bring back Freddie. Or Trayvon. Or Breonna. Or George. Until the agents of our government stop murdering Black people, there is very little to celebrate.
— Zeke Cohen (@Zeke_Cohen) April 20, 2021
Chauvin faces up to 40 years in prison, but could receive a shorter sentence based on Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines.
Three other police officers, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng, have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.