Mayor Byron W. Brown, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and other local leaders took to social media Tuesday to weigh in on the verdict by a Minnesota jury in the case against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the May 25, 2020 murder of George Floyd.
The jury reached its verdict after 10 hours of deliberation held over two days. Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts against him, including second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Mayor Byron W. Brown released a statement that also appeared on the mayor's official Facebook page.
"This historic verdict in the murder trial of ex-police officer Derek Chauvin will not bring George Floyd back, but for the Floyd family and for all Black lives, justice has prevailed," Brown said.
"The small group of people that rendered three guilty verdicts today further demonstrates that Black lives matter. This murder has had a very deep and personal impact on so many, and while there is still so much work to be done and the need for much more change, this is a verdict for all of those who have dedicated themselves to racial justice through peaceful protest," Brown added.
"The verdicts delivered today were a powerful statement of accountability," Cuomo said on Twitter.
"But while I'm grateful that the jury returned this verdict, accountability is not the same as justice. Our charge now is to channel this moment to make real, positive, and long-overdue change happen," the governor added.
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul also issued a statement via Twitter.
"Today's guilty verdicts don't heal years of systemic injustice, but it's a step in the right direction," Hochul tweeted.
New York's junior Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, also released on a statement on the verdict.
“Today’s verdict delivers a small measure of justice to the family of George Floyd, but nothing can ever erase the pain of losing a loved one. Our nation remains in a moment of moral reckoning and we must take bold and decisive action. Congress must pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to address the systemic and institutional racism that plagues our criminal justice system and continues to lead to the deaths of countless Black Americans,” Gillibrand said.
University at Buffalo President Satish K. Tripathi described the landmark trial as a referendum on police accountability and brutality against Black and brown Americans, noting that, as such, it has been closely followed by millions who are demanding the abiding structural change that is long overdue in the United States.
"Of course, the deep-seated hurt, sadness and anger that George Floyd’s murder evoked cannot be wiped away with the reading of a guilty verdict," Tripathi said.
“It is my ardent hope that as we pause and reflect on the verdict, we consider how we can transform this moment in our collective history into a turning point for genuine reconciliation and change: change in our hearts, our minds, our practices, our systems,” Tripathi added.
Bishop Michael W. Fisher of the Diocese of Buffalo referred to the jury's "verdict of accountability" as an important step in healing the deep wounds of racial tension caused by Floyd's killing.
"The agonizing images of his confrontation with those sworn to protect and serve, and the final moments of life, will forever challenge us and must always compel us to create a more compassionate and just society, where all enjoy equal rights and protections under the law," Fisher said.
Buffalo mayoral candidate India Walton said the verdict in the Chauvin trial is only a small reprieve for communities that have been overpoliced and overlooked.
"You can’t reform a system that is working as it’s designed. The only way forward is to reimagine public safety in our neighborhoods," Walton said in a statement released Tuesday.
Black Love Resists in the Rust, a local advocacy group for Black and brown residents that promotes social justice, also released a statement in response to the verdict in the Chauvin trial.
"While this is the outcome many hoped for, we acknowledge that the indictment of Derek Chauvin does not equal police accountability, nor does it mean communities across Minneapolis will be safer. Derek Chauvin is not just an officer who instituted unnecessary and extreme force, killing George Floyd, but he represents a policing system, from Buffalo to Oakland, built on a culture of violence toward Black, brown, and poor community members," the group said.
Kim and Terry Pegula, owners of the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres, shared their reaction to the verdict in a tweet.
"Today's verdict brings accountability for the senseless murder of George Floyd, but the fight to end racism and hate in our country continues. There is so much more work to be done," the couple tweeted.
"Our organizations are continuously learning how to be a productive part of the movement against racial injustices. We urge everyone to focus on love and equality to peacefully make change," the Pegulas added.