Seattle responds to guilty verdict in Chauvin trial
The jury in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin delivered a guilty verdict on three counts Tuesday: murder 2, murder 3, and manslaughter.
While an officer, Chauvin killed George Floyd as he knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes in May 2020.
Within minutes of the verdict being read April 20, officials from the Seattle area, and beyond, began responding.
“We are heartened to hear that Derek Chauvin has been found guilty of murder in the death of George Floyd – but we are not satisfied. This verdict shows that the thin blue line of police silence can be broken; that police officers have it within them to stand up and hold their fellow officers accountable; that prosecutors can muster the resources and evidence to secure a guilty verdict against police when they have the will do to so; and that juries are capable of seeing the truth, which is that Black and brown people in America continue to be killed by police for no other reason than the color of their skin.
But this is just one verdict, and it came only after a summer of nearly non-stop mass protest, with echoes of Mr. Floyd’s last words, 'I can’t breathe,' filling streets from Seattle to Washington, D.C. It should not take a national movement to secure justice for a single Black man killed by a police officer. But it did, and it will.
Because we know that our work is not done, that Black and brown people continue to be targeted, assaulted and killed by police every day, and that they rarely see justice. We see it in our backyard, in King County, where Black and Indigenous people are killed at a vastly disproportionate rate. We live in an America where white people can storm the U.S. Capitol and go home safe and unarmed, while Black and brown people are effectively sentenced to death for counterfeit dollar bills and loose cigarettes.
It has to stop. We cannot accept the status quo. It is time to end policing in Seattle and King County as we know it and build a new system that honors Black and brown lives. As our community celebrates this rare victory tonight, we must channel our emotion into sustained action. We must fight to secure justice for other victims of police violence. We must remember those here in King County who have lost their lives at the hands of the police: Shaun Suhr, Charleena Lyles, Tommy Le, and too many others. We must strive for a day when holding police accountable is routine. We must not let this day be an anomaly.
And as we honor this moment, we must do so with respect for our community and each other. We must be ready to take action tomorrow.”
— Carolyn Riley-Payne, president of the Seattle King County NAACP
Governor Jay Inslee
Washington Governor Jay Inslee said "there is still much work to do. This is one step on a long journey we are just beginning."
"Today is a day for all to recommit themselves to a more perfect union, in their communities and in our nation. Let this be the beginning of progress rather than the end of one trial. Today’s sense of relief for some is fleeting. They know more must be done to prevent this from happening again and again. Too many live with this uncertainty. We must end systemic racism."
Inslee further states that Washington state is reforming how it investigates police use-of-force and is increasing oversight.
Inslee also says that "Our communities will not be at peace until everyone feels secure to do the most basic things. I’m talking about the right to vote. Or the right to get in the car and drive anywhere safely without fear of being killed. To walk down any street in America or go shopping at the department store without being selectively followed. To work regardless of what your hair or skin color looks like. To rent or buy a house in the neighborhood of your choice, or to get an insurance policy without being asked for a credit score. These ordinary activities must be available to all."
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan calls for prayer and moment of silence
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is calling for a moment of silence and prayer at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 20.
The city of Seattle also advised that the fire department was prepared for any potential fires and issued guidance for local businesses to prepare "to mitigate the impact of broken windows and graffiti, should that occur."
King County Council Chair Claudia Balducci
“It’s heartening to see our system can provide accountability for such a heart-wrenching event that sparked a historic movement for social change and justice.
“While this is a just and important verdict, it is just one action, in one case, that was decided with unusually compelling documentation of an exceptionally horrific act. We have so much more to do to realize true justice and equity in our nation. Here in King County, we will continue our work toward transforming policing and providing true public safety.”
Former Seattle Councilmember Bruce Harrell
Councilmember Lorena González
Seattle Community Police Commission
"Our hearts are with George Floyd’s loved ones today. While this is a step toward justice, we know nothing can fill the hole left in the hearts of his family and community.
The murder of George Floyd and the response by police departments to protests over the past year have shown the world what Black people in America have known for centuries – the systems of oppression perpetrated by policing make all of us less safe and less free.
Since George Floyd’s murder, police have killed nearly 1,000 people in the United States – two of them in Seattle. We cannot continue to wait for harm to be inflicted on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities to remind us that now is the time for action. To the Seattle Police Department and our elected leaders, our message is simple: do not just listen to community, act on their demands."
Seattle Police Department
The Seattle Police Department issued a statement almost immediately after the verdict was read, highlighting changes the department has made in the wake of George Floyd's death.
"The Seattle Police Department knows that Mr. Floyd’s murder was a watershed moment for this country. The eyes of the nation saw in horrible detail what so many have been fighting to change. It was soul crushing. From that pain, though, real change as begun.
The events of the past year have made clear the community’s expectations of what police work should be."
SPD further says it will be reducing its footprint at demonstrations to "avoid escalation," and focusing on "isolating and arresting law violators within an otherwise peaceable assembly."