Vermont's elected leaders released the following statements Tuesday evening, April 20, 2021, on the guilty verdicts convicting former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin of murder for the death of George Floyd.
Statement from Governor Phil Scott
“George Floyd’s death was a tragedy, and although today’s verdict brings some justice, there is still so much more work to achieve a truly just society.
“We cannot treat the racism that led to Mr. Floyd’s murder as if it is a single, uncomfortable and rare event. We must acknowledge that, over many generations, systemic racism was built into our social systems, our economic systems and everything in between.
“We’re not immune to it in Vermont and it will take our nation, and our state, years of committed work to achieve real and lasting equality for every American. Let’s use this moment to acknowledge the scope of the challenge and recommit to the work of building an equitable country. This is our obligations as citizens, as we pursue a more perfect union.”
Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy
“Justice has been served. As a former prosecutor I know well that officers of the law have the incredibly important and difficult job of keeping our communities safe, but in so doing they cannot be above the law. Murder is murder, and the police badge must never serve as a shield against accountability for those who commit it. Derek Chauvin received a fair trial and a jury of his peers has found him guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. He will now face the consequences of committing this crime.
“George Floyd is yet another unarmed black man whose life was unjustifiably ended at the hands of police officers who have sworn an oath to protect and serve all members of the American public. While nothing can bring Mr. Floyd back, I pray that this verdict gives his family, his loved ones, and the all who are closely watching this case a sense that the American legal system can render real justice. For George Floyd, I hope we all now can take the breath that was denied him, to recommit ourselves to addressing the racial injustices that have plagued our nation for far too long.”
Senator Bernie Sanders' Statement
“The jury's verdict delivers accountability for Derek Chauvin, but not justice for George Floyd. Real justice for him and too many others can only happen when we build a nation that fundamentally respects the human dignity of every person. The trauma and tragedy of George Floyd’s murder must never leave us. It was a manifestation of a system that callously devalues the lives of Black people. Our struggle now is about justice—not justice on paper, but real justice in which all Americans live their lives free of oppression. We must boldly root out the cancer of systemic racism and police violence against people of color.”
Statement of Representative Peter Welch
This verdict is a relief. My hope is that George Floyd’s loved ones receive some comfort in this verdict, but it will not bring him back into their lives. George Floyd was publicly murdered on camera for the world to see, and after too many Black men suffering the same fate at the hands of law enforcement, our justice system has finally offered some measure of accountability by holding Officer Chauvin responsible for the murder he committed. The horrific evidence of this crime was beamed across the world and was there for all of us to see. It was there to see for the bystanders who tried to intervene. It was there to see for the police officials who testified against Officer Chauvin. And it was there to see for the jury who delivered this verdict. We all saw Officer Chauvin, who, with his hands resting nonchalantly in his pockets, spent more than nine long minutes brutally murdering Mr. Floyd as he pleaded for his life.
This verdict is an important step for our country as we wrestle with centuries of injustice. But there is so much more work to do in our communities, in the halls of Congress, and in each of our lives to build a society free of bigotry and inequality. We all must commit to do the work, every day.
Speaker Jill Krowinski's statement
“Today, the jury came to the same conclusion we have long known in our hearts and minds, Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd in a senseless, brutal, and avoidable manner. The justice system in our country continues to fail our BIPOC communities in so many ways, and while this verdict brings a sliver of closure to this tragedy, it does not change the fact that a life was lost and people across the country continue to question whether or not they are safe in their own communities. We have a tremendous amount of work ahead of us to dismantle systemic racism, create true equity in this country, and build a society where all persons are treated justly and can live without fear.”
Attorney General Donovan’s Statement
“I join the voices of many Americans today in thanking the jury for their service and, like millions of Americans, I am grateful that there was accountability for George Floyd’s murder. But the work for justice continues. I stand in solidarity with people across the country who are fighting to bring equity and fairness to the justice system.
“George Floyd should be alive today. He deserved to be treated with respect and fairness, especially by a member of law enforcement. We must continue to address and combat systemic racism in all spheres of this country, especially within our criminal justice system. And we must listen to and hold up the voices and experiences of the BIPOC community.
“I remain committed to working toward systemic change to make Vermont a more fair and equitable place for all.”
Statement from Mayor Miro Weinberger on Guilty Verdict in Minneapolis
“Soon after the murder of George Floyd, the great civil rights leader John Lewis compared the current movement for racial justice to the protests of the 1960s, saying the current moment “feels and looks so different. It is so much more massive and all inclusive… there will be no turning back.
“Today twelve jurors, 38 brave witnesses, George Floyd’s strong family, and skilled prosecutors delivered accountability in a Minneapolis courtroom through the conviction of Derek Chauvin on all counts. This outcome makes clear that such conduct has no place in American law enforcement.
“Today’s verdict is an indication that our efforts now are and must continue to be different than our past, grossly insufficient attempts to achieve racial justice. We need to reimagine public safety, root systemic racism out of every sector of society, and truly see and value the humanity of our Black and brown neighbors. There can be no turning back. Burlington will remain steadfast in its commitment to this historic task.
“While today’s verdict provides some sense of relief, we must also remember that our Black and brown Burlingtonians are still feeling much grief. They remember many others who didn’t get this result, and are still reeling from many injustices they endure daily.”
Vermont Democratic Party Statement
The jury has reached a verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd in June 2020. Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts: second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. Additionally and notably, his bail has been revoked.
Vermont Democratic Party Chair Bruce Olsson made the following statement:
“Today we are grateful for the verdict in this trial, and we thank the jurors who honored their civic duty and held Derek Chauvin accountable by the same law that has failed too many times before to deliver justice in the cases of clear police misconduct towards Black Americans.
“While nothing can bring back the life of George Floyd, today’s ruling is a small step towards progress, towards a future where law enforcement is held accountable for their actions when they abuse the authority with which they are entrusted.
“This small step towards progress is not a time to let our guard down or move on. We have a long road of work ahead of us to deliver necessary and meaningful reform to the system that led to Mr. Floyd’s death and the deaths of so many others. The Vermont Democratic Party pledges to honor the legacy of George Floyd by continuing to fight for justice and for an end to racist violence.”
Black lives matter.
April 20, 2021
APRIL 21, 2021, STATEMENT OF THE VERMONT CRIMINAL JUSTICE COUNCIL AND THE VERMONT POLICE ACADEMY
The Vermont Criminal Justice Council, born out of the predecessor Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council, was established in December 2020 by the Vermont General Assembly to begin reformation of the police profession. The ethnically and racially diverse twenty-four member Council includes representatives of crime victims’ and racial justice advocacy organizations, the mental health community, the Vermont Human Rights Commission, members of the public, departments of state government, and law enforcement organizations. The Council commenced operations in January 2021.
The Council elected to release the following statement:
Derek Chauvin’s conviction in the murder of George Floyd, as well as numerous examples of police brutality against people of color in the recent past, weigh heavily on the Vermont Criminal Justice Council. The Council bears critical responsibilities surrounding law enforcement training, culture, policy, and accountability. It is important that police reconcile and repair relationships as members of their communities. In particular, leaders must continue to respect the humanity of those who have been harmed as well as those who commit to doing the work.
The Council serves as the leading edge of policing in Vermont. We are responsible for training, as well as the cultivation and shaping of culture for current and prospective law enforcement. We are taking actions to transform law enforcement in Vermont through our newly formed committees on professional regulation and hiring standards, as well as renewed commitment to fair and impartial policing, training curriculum development, and reimagination of staffing and resources. It is our vision that instances of police brutality and misconduct will not occur in Vermont.
We welcome all people to join us in our commitment not just to implement policies and training, but also to develop a culture that protects and embraces communities in Vermont, including those that have been historically marginalized.
Council Chair William Sorrell
Council co-Vice Chair Xusana Davis
Council co-Vice Chair Mark Anderson
Executive Director Heather Simons