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Labor Leaders Hail Chauvin Guilty Verdict; Call for Transformational Change

“We must ensure this ruling signals an end to the cycle of violence against our Black and Brown communities, and the beginning of long overdue reform of our broken policing and criminal justice systems.” — 32 BJ SEIU President Kyle Bragg. Above: Derek Chauvin listens in a Minnesota courtroom as he is found guilty of murdering George Floyd.

New York, NY – Many watched as Derek Chauvin was escorted out of a Minnesota courtroom on Tuesday, April 20, after a jury found him guilty of two counts of murder and one count of manslaughter in the killing of 46-year-old George Floyd last May.

The murder and manslaughter convictions could send the now former Minneapolis police officer to prison for up to 40 years. Minnesota sentencing guidelines, however, are advisory and not mandatory. Many suspect Chauvin to could end up serving   less than 13-years locked up.

The jury — comprised of six Caucasians and six people-of-color — delivered their verdict a day after closing arguments. Chauvin was then remanded to the Hennepin County Sheriff after his bail was revoked. 

“We hope this ruling brings a sorely needed measure of relief and peace to the family of George Floyd, and that it signals a step in the right direction towards repairing our broken policing and judicial systems,” 32BJ SEIU President Kyle Bragg said in response. “While today’s decision is a step in the right direction, we are far from where our nation needs to be in order to live up to our own ideals. We must ensure this ruling signals an end to the cycle of violence against our Black and Brown communities, and the beginning of long overdue reform of our broken policing and criminal justice systems.”

We must not forget other victims of police violence, including Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and Michael Brown, Bragg added.

“The fact still remains that police shootings are a leading cause of death among Black men, yet few officers are ever charged and even fewer are convicted,” said Bragg. “As a union representing mostly Black and Brown workers, our members cannot escape a dangerous reality that they too could become a victim of police brutality, even as they risk their own lives keeping us safe on the frontlines as essential workers who clean and secure buildings. Many must travel to and from work during off-hours and fear being harassed and brutalized by the police.”

United Probation Officers Association President Dalvanie Powell felt justice was served, despite the sad moments that led to it. 

“We recognize that in the path to achieve racial justice for all, still far too many of our brothers and sisters still will lose their lives if we do not hold those accountable for their actions,” said Powell,  also recalling the many sons, daughters, husbands and wives who have lost their lives to excessive police force. “We are committed to bring about change that allows everyone, and in particular our Black and Brown communities, to feel that they live in a society where they are equal, where they are respected, and where their lives matter.”

The Communications Workers of America [CWA] also applauded the verdict, but said it is “not enough.”

“Today’s verdict finding Derek Chauvin guilty of the murder of George Floyd is a step toward justice for Floyd, his family members, and all those who have been affected by his brutal murder,” the union said in a statement. “We’ve heard all the pretexts and excuses and promises to do better, but the fact remains that there has been no reduction in the racial disparity in fatal police shootings over the past five years.”

The 700,000- member union says hard, transformational work is needed to root out racism in America’s consciousness and institutions that uphold it.  

“Our union is committed to educating, organizing and mobilizing for racial justice,” the union added. “That work begins with fighting racism within CWA and extends into our workplaces and our communities.”

National Nurses United [NNU] President Jean Ross agreed, noting that a system which allows discrimination against someone because of their ethnicity, national origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation, immigration status, disability status or gender identity, needs to be transformed.

“We hope this verdict will send a message about the importance of holding police officers accountable for terrifying acts of police violence and misconduct,” Ross said. “We also recognize that this decision would not have been possible without the outpouring of millions of Americans demanding justice following the murder of George Floyd.”

Ross also called for divesting in the prison industrial complex and reinvesting those resources in public health and education, in addition to providing equal access to healthcare for minority communities, ending workplace discrimination and protecting BIPOC rights. 

“More is clearly needed to protect public health and safety, especially for Black and Brown communities who are enduring disproportionate harm,” said Ross. 

Service Employees International Union District 1199 President and SEIU International Vice President Becky Williams released a statement saying, it part, that it is “far past time for us to stand united – from cities to suburbs to towns – to demand our federal, state, and especially our local elected officials immediately reimagine public safety budgets to address systemic racism and deep-seated implicit bias within law enforcement.”

“Yesterday was a day to celebrate accountability for the murder of George Floyd, but it was not a day to celebrate complete justice,” Williams said. “Complete justice would mean that George Floyd would still be alive today. Justice would mean Ma’khia Bryant would be alive today. Justice would mean that Tamir Rice, Henry Green, Tyre King, Andre Hill, Casey Goodson, Jr, and all the lives taken by the very people who have sworn an oath to protect our communities.”

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