Leading liberals on Tuesday expressed various levels of dissatisfaction with ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s conviction on all charges in the high-profile murder trial of George Floyd.
The optimists: Hours after the guilty verdict was announced on Tuesday, President Joe Biden voiced what passes on the left for optimism about U.S. race relations.
- Biden, in prepared remarks at the White House, praised the decision — which he had advocated — as potentially “a giant step forward for justice in America,” but called such accountability “much too rare” and “not enough.”
- “The systemic racism is a stain on our nation’s soul,” he said, urging Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a police reform bill.
- “A measure of justice isn’t the same as equal justice,” Harris said in remarks ahead of Biden’s.
Keith Ellison, the Minnesota attorney general, said, “I would not call today’s verdict ‘justice,’ however, because justice implies true restoration.
- “But it is accountability, which is the first step towards justice,” he added. “And now the cause of justice is in your hands.”
Former President Barack Obama issued a statement saying: “Today, a jury in Minneapolis did the right thing. … [But t]rue justice requires that we come to terms with the fact that Black Americans are treated differently, every day.”
Sunny Hostin, a co-host of ABC’s “The View,” tearfully shared on “Good Morning America” that she believes her 18-year-old son is “safer in South Africa than he is in his own country” because of racist policing.
- But Hostin said of Chauvin’s conviction, “I am so relieved that this is what justice finally looks like for my community.”
HuffPost staffer Taryn Finley wrote: “This guilty verdict is good news. I should be relieved, but I’m not. I’m exhausted.”
- She cited recent police shootings of black people and “dreadfully rare” convictions of the officers.
Activists who gathered in the streets of Minneapolis following the Chauvin verdict told the Daily Caller’s Jorge Ventura they were “satisfied” that “justice has been served” in the case.
- According to Ventura, though, “the fight is not over” for the activists, and they plan to push for murder charges against the former Brooklyn Center, Minnesota police officer who apparently accidentally shot and killed a black motorist earlier this month.
- A Black Lives matter activist elsewhere in Minneapolis said: “We’re never gonna be satisfied. … We’re happy with the conviction, but we’re gonna keep going. … This is a black genocide.”
The pessimists: Other prominent progressives refused to even acknowledged Chauvin’s conviction as a win, instead dismissing it as a distraction from the allegedly deeply racist U.S. justice system.
“No, this verdict is not justice. Frankly, I don’t even think we call it full accountability because there are multiple officers that were there …” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, said in an Instagram livestream.
- “And I also don’t want this moment to be framed as this system working, because it’s not working.”
- Three former Minneapolis police officers who took part with Chauvin in Floyd’s fatal May 25 arrest have been charged with aiding and abetting his crimes.
Democratic Socialists of America, of which Ocasio-Cortez is a member, said on Twitter, “The verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial is not justice.”
- “As they did today, cops will sacrifice their own in order to quell outrage & maintain trust,” the group continued.
- “But justice will not come from the institutions that uphold injustice. A conviction does not change the fact that George Floyd was murdered — that police will continue to do so to others.”
New York Magazine staff writer Zak Cheney-Rice made a similar case under the headline “This Is Not Justice. It’s Self-Preservation.”
Boston University professor Ibram X. Kendi, a bestselling author and antiracism activist, asked in a CBS News segment, “Is justice convicting a police officer, or is justice convicting America?”
- “Justice has convicted America,” he said in response to his own question. “Now we must put in the time transforming this nation.”
Actor Jason Isaacs tweeted that the Chauvin verdict “changes nothing.”
- “It just wasn’t yet another grotesque miscarriage of justice,” he said. “The only way forward is passage of the #GeorgeFloydJusticeInPolicingAct #CallYourRep.”
The MSNBC take: Amid the cacophony of righteousness, MSNBC contributor Jason Johnson stood out by actually seeming outraged over Chauvin’s conviction, which he called a “cultural makeup-call.”
No justice, no peace?: Some conservative commentators, like Fox News host Tucker Carlson, have worried aloud that media bias and the threat of left-wing fury are denying Chauvin his right to a fair trial.
- Chauvin faces up to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced in the coming weeks.
- The presumptive sentence for second-degree murder is 12.5 years, according to Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines.
- But the state has asked for a higher sentence due to “aggravating factors.”