George Floyd

George Floyd

Snohomish County reacts: ‘Justice served’ by guilty verdict

Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was found guilty Tuesday in the death of George Floyd.

EVERETT — Elected officials and other leaders in Snohomish County reacted swiftly to a verdict that was monitored closely from Minneapolis to Everett and around the world.

“I think that this could really signal the change when it comes to policing of police officers and letting them know that they don’t have a license to kill,” said Janice Green, the Snohomish County president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

“Justice is served,” began a statement issued Tuesday afternoon by Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers, shortly after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murder in the death of George Floyd.

Like much of America, Snohomish County last spring and summer saw demonstrators pour into the streets to demand racial justice. As of 2 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, Courtney O’Keefe, a spokesperson for the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, said the agency was “not aware of any planned rallies or protests, but we are in communication with our local law enforcement partners.”

After weeks of trial, the jury in Minneapolis only needed about 10 hours to convict Chauvin.

Judge Peter A. Cahill read the guilty verdicts from the Hennepin County Courthouse around 2 p.m. Pacific time. Sentencing is expected in eight weeks, though an exact date still needs to be set, Cahill said.

In this image from video, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin (center) is taken into custody after the verdicts were read at Chauvin’s trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. (Court TV via AP, Pool)

In this image from video, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin (center) is taken into custody after the verdicts were read at Chauvin’s trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. (Court TV via AP, Pool)

Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died last May after Chauvin kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes, despite cries from Floyd that he couldn’t breathe. Floyd died in police custody.

Chauvin, 45, was charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The most serious charge is second-degree murder, and it would likely carry a sentence of about 11 to 15 years, but it could be as high as 40 years.

Floyd’s death spurred protests nationwide. In Snohomish County, activists gathered on corners and marched in the streets of Everett, Granite Falls, Lake Stevens, Lynnwood, Marysville, Mill Creek, Monroe, Mukilteo, Snohomish and Stanwood.

In Marysville, Jordon Jeffries and others have been protesting for 48 weeks straight on a rooftop along State Avenue. They began to demonstrate after Floyd’s death.

In that time they’ve started a nonprofit organization, and hope to soon open an arts center in Marysville for young people with a focus on communities of color.

Jeffries was happy to hear the verdict Tuesday, but didn’t expect it, he said.

“That’s sad when it’s on tape and there is obviously something wrong and we’re shocked when justice is served,” he said. “I think that’s when we really won, when it’s not a shock.”

The outcry last year also brought fears of destruction to some cities. The Tulalip Tribes reported attempted looting, and Alderwood mall in Lynnwood closed due to what police characterized as “continuing credible threats.” Hoards of people gathered on First Street in Snohomish, some with guns to protect the historic town, after rumors spread that Antifa planned to break into storefronts. It ended up being a hoax.

The Chauvin trial began March 29. While the identities of jurors were not disclosed, the court released some demographic information. The jury included three Black men, one Black woman, two women who identify as multiracial, two white men and four white women. They ranged in age from their 20s to 60s.

In all, the jury heard from 45 witnesses, including a teenager who took cellphone video of Floyd’s arrest and a 19-year-old who was working as a clerk in a grocery store called Cup Foods. He was one of the last people to interact with Floyd.

Over 100 people lie on the street during a protest at Lynnwood City Hall on July 7. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Over 100 people lie on the street during a protest at Lynnwood City Hall on July 7. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the nation Tuesday evening.

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

“Here’s the truth about racial injustice,” she said later. “It is not just a Black America problem or a people-of-color problem, it is a problem for every American. It is keeping us from fulfilling the promise of liberty and justice for all, and it is holding our nation back from realizing our full potential.”

The president said the verdict could be a giant step toward justice and said accountability like this is far too rare.

“As we saw in this trial from the fellow police officers who testified, most men and women who wear the badge serve their communities honorably,” Biden said. “Those few who fail to meet that standard must be held accountable, and they were today, one was. No one should be above the law and today’s verdict sends that message, but it’s not enough and we can’t stop here.”

After the verdict was announced, Gov. Jay Inslee cancelled a planned visit to Pallet Shelters in Everett and returned to Olympia to helm the state’s response to any protests.

“Weary families in so many communities, traumatized from images of brutality against Black and Brown people and feeling no power to stop it, can take heart today that justice was served in this instance,” the governor said in a written statement. “Yet, there is still much work to do. This is one step on a long journey we are just beginning.”

Here’s what else officials and leaders are saying about the verdict:

Janice Green, president of the NAACP Snohomish County

“I think that justice was served. I think that this could really signal the change when it comes to policing of police officers and letting them know that they don’t have a license to kill. … We have a history in this country of Black people being killed and law enforcement and others not being held accountable. I hope this is where we start holding people accountable.”

Michael Adams, activist and founder of Change the Narrative: Granite Falls

“It is good to see, but there is still so many other cases that are happening now where we are waiting to address this. This could be the beginning of a big push for change or this could be an anomaly and it could be the one time we see anything. It leads to the question does justice come only when it is high-profile or is it going to be served for the lesser known cases as well. … Obviously, the George Floyd case, the Chauvin trial has been something on a national level, but even locally in our state there are cases we are still waiting on justice with Manuel Ellis and Kevin Peterson Jr. We are still waiting to see if justice comes from those situations as well.”

Jordon Jeffries, activist and co-founder of Artists in Activism

“I was extremely happy, I was definitely emotional. It’s sad because I was fully prepared to hear some sort of acquittal or low charge, I just was not ready for it, to hear guilty. I’m not going to say I celebrated, I was just really really happy for the movement, I was really happy for the Floyd family, and I was also happy for law enforcement. This set a precedent for good cops, officers who haven’t been speaking up at this point, to see it could be done without punishment, without repercussion. There were officers testifying against the officers being charged, so for the world and nation and other police officers to see that happen is a really big step.

It’s kind of bittersweet because we still have had shootings and similar situations, even as recently as a week ago, so the work isn’t over. If anything it just shows that getting out there, getting involved, marching, protesting, it can do something. Whether or not people see a direct correlation between that or not, the nation seems to be shifting toward what’s right, not just some strange hero worship for law enforcement. It’s a victory but I instantly fall back to: OK, that’s a victory, now it’s time to help all the other victims.

… I’m thankful but if anything it makes me a little more determined to see that kind of justice become the standard. Because it’s a surprise, the fact that something like this is a surprise, that’s sad, when it’s on tape and there is obviously something wrong and we’re shocked when justice is served. I think that’s when we really won, when it’s not a shock.”

April Berg, state representative and Everett School Board member

“Although he was found guilty on all counts, there is still that missing piece, because we will never erase the horror of watching Mr. Floyd die at the hands of law enforcement. … For me, I am the mother of a Black son, so when Mr. Floyd was calling for his mother my heart broke and there is a piece of me that is so broken that we had to get to a point as a society of watching a knee on a man’s neck for folks to really say, ‘Wow, racism does exist.’”

Daria Willis, president of Everett Community College

“The trauma of the past year on communities of color has been overwhelming. Today’s verdict brings a sense of closure to Mr. Floyd’s family as justice in this case was served, but we must never forget Emmett Till, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, and so many others who were failed by the justice system. I truly hope there is a day when all people regardless of their skin color will be treated as equals under the eyes of the law.”

Cassie Franklin, Everett mayor, and Dan Templeman, Everett police chief

“There must be accountability for those who commit violent acts, regardless of the race, socio-economic status, or office they hold. While there is no outcome to this case that will bring George Floyd back, or mend the pain, trauma and grief of his death, today’s verdict represents our first step toward healing for our communities. As we heal from this tragic event, it’s of utmost importance that we continue to challenge and change systems to ensure justice and equity.

One of a city’s primary responsibilities is to ensure it is a safe place for all to live, work, learn and visit. Having the public’s trust is paramount to achieving that fundamental responsibility; it cannot be attained if people are afraid of those whose job it is to protect them. That trust is earned through fair and impartial policing, transparency, accountability and community partnerships. These core principles are deeply ingrained into the culture of the Everett Police Department. We believe it is only through this trust that we can achieve the legitimacy to effectively protect and serve our communities.

We remain committed to seeking opportunities to improve and reform our policies and practices, to better serve the community and ensure Everett is a safe and welcoming city for all.”

Dave Somers, Snohomish County executive

“Justice is served. The fact that a jury found George Floyd’s murderer guilty doesn’t lessen the crime nor diminish the many other criminal acts that have never been accounted for in our justice system. However, this verdict should motivate us all to work on making our justice system fairer, particularly for members of Black and African American communities, and building a community where no one can commit murder with impunity. I will continue to work to build an anti-racist government and a Snohomish County that is safe and welcoming for all residents.”

Megan Dunn, Snohomish County councilwoman

“My hope is that in light of the guilty verdicts, Chauvin is not treated as one ‘bad apple’ without taking a comprehensive look at the rotten tree and the roots of violence in this country. This is a step in the right direction for justice, but there is still a lot of work to do. I acknowledge the trauma that this trial and continued violence against Black people has caused. We need community-based and community-led solutions to public safety. I will continue working with our local community on long-term solutions to end police violence and change the narrative about public safety.”

Suzan DelBene, U.S. representative

“Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd. The outcome of this trial is one instance of justice being served. The verdict will not bring George Floyd back but I hope it brings some comfort to the Floyd family and the Minneapolis community. We must do more to protect our communities from police brutality, increase transparency in policing, and hold officers accountable. The Senate must pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (H.R. 1280) to set national policing standards and begin to rebuild trust in law enforcement.”

Patty Murray, U.S. senator

“George Floyd should be with us today. And so should too many other Black men, women, and children. We need justice in every single trial and an America where justice and equality are a reality for all of us. That’s what I’ll keep fighting for.”

Maria Cantwell, U.S. senator

“George Floyd and his family deserve justice. Today, a jury deliberated, and we took one step closer towards justice. Congress should now pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and ensure equal treatment under law.”

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