Obamas on Derek Chauvin verdict: ‘We cannot rest’

Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama praised Tuesday’s guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, but emphasized that more work must be done to achieve justice.

“True justice requires that we come to terms with the fact that Black Americans are treated differently, every day,” the Obamas said in a statement. “It requires us to recognize that millions of our friends, family, and fellow citizens live in fear that their next encounter with law enforcement could be their last. And it requires us to do the sometimes thankless, often difficult, but always necessary work of making the America we know more like the America we believe in.”

Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who knelt on George Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes during Floyd’s arrest last year, was found guilty Tuesday of all three charges against him in one of the most consequential trials of the Black Lives Matter era. Chauvin, 45, was convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The jurors deliberated for more than 10 hours over two days in coming to their decision.

“While today’s verdict may have been a necessary step on the road to progress, it was far from a sufficient one,” the Obamas continued. “We cannot rest. We will need to follow through with the concrete reforms that will reduce and ultimately eliminate racial bias in our criminal justice system. We will need to redouble efforts to expand economic opportunity for those communities that have been too long marginalized.”

The verdict comes against the backdrop of national unrest over recent deaths of Black Americans at the hands of police.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, in remarks delivered Tuesday from the Cross Hall of the White House following the verdict, said the jury’s decision was a starting point for greater justice.

The President called the verdict “a giant step towards justice in America,” but added that much more needs to be done.

“It was murder in the full light of day and it ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see,” Biden said of Floyd’s killing.

Harris said that while the verdict brought relief, America still faces systemic racism, adding that racial injustice is holding the nation back from realizing its full potential.

“Today we feel a sigh of relief. Still, it cannot take away the pain. A measure of justice, isn’t the same as equal justice,” Harris said. “This verdict brings us a step closer, and the fact is, we still have work to do. We still must reform the system.”

The vice president also called on the Senate to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, calling it part of Floyd’s legacy.

Biden, breaking his careful silence about the eventual outcome in the trial, said earlier Tuesday that he was “praying the verdict is the right verdict” and suggested there was ample evidence for the jury to consider as it determined whether the former police officer was guilty.

“It’s overwhelming, in my view,” Biden said in the Oval Office, where he was meeting with Hispanic lawmakers. “I wouldn’t say that unless the jury was sequestered.”

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