San Franciscans were relieved Tuesday after jurors found a former Minneapolis police officer guilty of murder in the killing of George Floyd.
Television news footage from Minnesota showed crowds erupting in cheers and applause over the guilty verdicts against Derek Chauvin in the May 2020 killing that spawned protests against police violence in cities across the nation last summer.
In San Francisco, where authorities were preparing for possible protests if Chauvin were acquitted, officials welcomed the verdict but remained vigilant in their calls for systemic reforms to policing.
Mayor London Breed held up the verdict as a signal that “the tide is turning in this country, although still too slowly, toward accountability and justice.”
“The need for action is as critical as ever,” Breed said in a statement. “This is about more than prosecuting the officer who killed George Floyd, though that is an important step. It’s about fundamentally restructuring how policing is done to move away from the use of excessive force.”
Lt. Yulanda Williams, president of Officers for Justice, a local association for Black officers, was thrilled by the news. She said the verdict would bring a “new day” for the San Francisco Police Department.
“From this day forward our officers will feel to compelled and want to intervene when they see an excessive use of force by one of their peers,” Williams told the San Francisco Examiner. “That’s going to be very important. This is going to be a constant reminder.”
Chief Bill Scott called on officers to be “guardians” of the community, focused on providing safety with respect for human life and dignity, in response to the verdict.
“The work of doing justice for George Floyd doesn’t end today,” Scott said in a statement. “My hope for all of us in criminal justice roles is that we rise to this moment, and learn the lessons that history has frankly been trying to teach us for decades.”
District Attorney Chesa Boudin, who has pushed for police accountability and prosecuted officers over allegations of excessive force, said the verdict “brings relief to Americans.” But he said it “doesn’t bring justice” or “heal the pain George Floyd’s family has suffered.”
“Convictions against police officers who break the law remain rare,” Boudin said in a statement. “We must push for accountability, but true justice means creating a system that eliminates racism and violence against Black and Brown people.”
Chauvin was found guilty off second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He was led away in handcuffs after a judge read the verdicts. The jury had deliberated for just 10 hours following a weeks-long trial that began March 29.
He is expected to be sentenced at a later date.