Southland elected officials praise Chauvin verdict

Staff and Wire Reports

LOS ANGELES — Southland leaders reacted quickly to the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd April 20.

“Justice has been served! I think we can breathe a sigh of relief,” Assemblyman Mike Gipson, D-Gardena, wrote on Twitter. “This is the moment we’ve been waiting for. But we still have more work to do. This is only the beginning.”

Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas called the verdict a “victory for justice.”

But despite today’s outcome, our hearts remain heavy for the loved ones of George Floyd who have lost a father, a brother, and a friend,” he said. “Though his life was senselessly cut short, Mr. Floyd’s legacy lives on through our collective work and advocacy to reimagine policing across this country.

“So, while today’s verdict will not bring George Floyd back, my hope is that his family will know that he has forever changed this nation for the better.”

U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, invoked the Rodney King beating into out thoughts on the verdict.

“Thirty years ago, Rodney King was brutally beaten by police,” Bass said. “The video of the assault shocked the world, but not the jury, who let every single police officer responsible roam free.

“Today is different. Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd and has been convicted of his crimes.

“But as we exhale from the relief of justice finally being delivered in a case like this, we have to remain focused on the sentencing, which I believe should be the maximum, and the underlying movement that this case has come to represent: the need for accountability and real, substantive, transformative reform to our policing system,” Bass added.

“The United States House of Representatives has twice passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. We must continue this fight – so that rulings like today’s verdict, don’t come as such a surprise or such a relief. Justice in this country should come as expected, for all,

Councilman Joe Buscaino, who was a Los Angeles police officer for 15 years before being elected to the City Council, added, “Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd in the light of day, with a maliciousness caught on tape far too many times in our history.

“In taking the life of one of the people he was sworn to protect, Chauvin disrespected the solemnity of his duty in the worst possible way. I am so glad that the jury said that Black Lives Matter, but this is just one day, on a very long journey to the reckoning that we must face and the healing that we need.”

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón wrote on Twitter that the jury “delivered accountability, but the future of equality rests squarely in America’s hands.”

Today’s verdict is a critical step in the ongoing march towards restoring public trust in our criminal justice system,” Gascón said. “I will continue to advocate for better training for officers, stronger accountability in use-of-force cases and in independent review of officer-involved shootings. Effective policing must be fair and just to enhance our collective safety.”

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said law enforcement officers who violate the law must be held to answer.

As we have all seen with the verdict in the Derek Chauvin case, we must have faith in the judicial process,” he said. “The law will take its course, and justice will prevail. If a crime is committed, regardless of who the perpetrator is, they will be brought to justice. Victims will always matter. Transparency and accountability works both ways.

When a law enforcement officer crosses the line from protector to oppressor, they must be held accountable,” he said.

Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights Los Angeles, said despite the verdict, Americans should “abhor” the fact that “communities of color remain at risk at every traffic stop.”

Our nation must question why police and policing is much more important than the lives of our community members,” Salas said. “We must invest in community and increase accountability for those who violate the human rights of our community members. Congress must step in to address the injustice they perpetrate. Mere reform is not enough to stop the racism that makes killing fields of our communities.”

Mayor Eric Garcetti hailed the verdict as a step toward healing, reconciliation and accountability.

For any of us who have lived through bad verdicts where justice was denied, we have seen too painfully and felt too painfully what it means for our country to stagger backwards,” he said. “So for today, for us to step forward even in the midst of our pain, it’s a good day.

This is about much more than one police officer. It’s also a moment to look at a system that is as predictable as it is pernicious far too often. The social order, way beyond our criminal justice system in which too often the benefits are afforded to a privileged few and denied to too many based on their race, their sex or their identity.

“Black people in this country have been denied their rights in this country for far too long. … Today is not the end of that system, but it is one turn in the long road of fixing it, one step towards healing,” Garcetti said.

Police agencies throughout the region geared up for protest and demonstrations following the verdicts and were relieved that their preparations were unnecessary.

There was one disturbance at night April 20 when a group of about 75 gathered in the Fairfax district and knelt in an intersection for more than nine minutes to mark the guilty verdicts.

Demonstrators moved into the intersection of Beverly Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue about 9:45 p.m. as Los Angeles police officers in riot gear stood nearby monitoring the crowd.

Shortly after the group finished its demonstration and began marching eastward on Beverly Boulevard toward Pan Pacific Park, officers pulled out of the area as the crowd followed them, yelling profanities.

A police commander at the scene told NBC4 there was no vandalism to any police vehicles during or after the demonstration.

The crowd dispersed a short time later.