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State, local leaders say Chauvin verdict is a step forward, but more needs to be done

CENTRAL COAST, Calif. (KION) Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of three charges related to the death of George Floyd last year, and leaders and organizations around the Central Coast and California are sharing their reactions.

Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter Tuesday after the jury deliberated for more than 10 hours over the course of two days.

Chief Abdul Pridgen with the Seaside Police Department shared his initial reaction to the verdict with KION.

"I think it was a moment to appreciate when the justice system works right and works properly and when justice is truly served... I think I speak not just as a citizen but for many police officers across the country who wanted this outcome. We all believe accountability was necessary and it's also necessary for us to build trust in communities where there is an absence of trust," he said.

But he, like several others, believes that the work does not end here.

"Although this is a good day for justice, it doesn't mean there isn't more work to be done. I know and other chiefs across the state of California know that each day is another opportunity to build trust in all communities, particularly those that distrust us the most," he said.

In June of last year, Pridgen stood alongside protesters at Seaside City Hall as they protested and held a moment of silence in honor of George Floyd.

Protestors joined by community leaders in Seaside

In Santa Cruz County, the local branch of the NAACP released a statement in response to the verdict, saying "the arc of the moral universe bent a little closer to justice today but there is still a long way to go."

The organization said in the statement:

"This trial serves as a reminder of the urgent need to pass legislation to hold police accountable, change the culture of law enforcement and build trust between law enforcement and our communities by preventing police brutality and allowing survivors and families of victims access to justice. 

"Countless victims like George Floyd, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor and now Daunte Wright have had their obituaries reopened, edited, rewritten, day after day. Our country has been relegated to no longer allowing the victim to rest in peace, but forcing their lives to be marred by public perception, criticism, and opinions as methods of rationalizing death as if our lives are expendable. Enough is Enough!

"This verdict offers a measure of justice but no consolation to the family and friends of Mr. Floyd. The time is now to not only reform but completely rethink the U.S. system of law enforcement.

"The NAACP will not rest and is well-positioned to continue our efforts to ensure the deaths of George Floyd, Daunte Wright, Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, and countless others are not in vain but move us toward true and unadulterated justice for our community."

NAACP Santa Cruz County Branch #1071

In addition, the NAACP branch released three demands- an end to police brutality and a criminal justice system that holds law enforcement accountable, an end to qualified immunity and the collection of data on police encounters that could provide transparency.

Central Cost Congressman Jimmy Panetta took to social media to share his thoughts about the case. In a Twitter post, he shared a graphic saying:

"Today, a court in Minnesota held Derek Chauvin responsible for his role in George Floyd's death. While Mr. Chauvin is being held accountable for his heinous actions, this is not a time to celebrate. George Floyd should still be alive today and the circumstances under which he died should have never existed.

"I hope today's decision brings the Floyd family peace, but our work is far from over. The Senate must act and bring our House-passed Justice in Policing Act to a vote so we can begin to reform policing in America and help ensure that our nation's police departments serve and protect every community."

Congressman Jimmy Panetta

In the post's caption, he wrote that justice prevailed today, but the work is far from over.

At the state level, Gov. Gavin Newsom shared a statement on social media following the verdict, pointing out his own privilege in comparison.

"George Floyd would still be alive if he looked like me. That must change. No conviction can repair the harm done to the Floyd family, but today’s verdict provides accountability. Now, we must continue our work to root out the racial injustice that haunts our society," he wrote.

Sen. Alex Padilla also shared a statement to say that police officers should be held accountable for their actions.

“Today’s verdict represents the promise of our justice system: that power cannot protect an offender, and that every victim deserves justice, regardless of the color of their skin. Too often, communities of color have been denied this promise. Police officers’ disproportionate use of force against people of color is a stain on our nation. The list of Black and Brown Americans killed by law enforcement and denied accountability in court is abhorrently long. I stand with the community of Minneapolis, the Black Lives Matter movement, and millions of Americans in mourning the murder of George Floyd by Officer Derek Chauvin. And I know that true justice will require work far beyond this verdict. Accountability for police officers should be an expectation, not an aberration. It is past time to reform our justice system to recognize at every level that Black lives matter," Padilla wrote.

California News / Central Coast / Monterey County / Santa Cruz County / Top Stories

Avery Johnson

Avery Johnson is the Digital Content Director at KION News Channel 5/46.

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