Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks Following The Conviction Of Derek Chauvin For The Murder Of George Floyd: “We Will Not Rest Until The Senate Passes Strong Legislation To End The Systemic Bias In Law Enforcement”April 21, 2021
Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the conviction of former Officer Derek Chauvin, who was found guilty of murder yesterday for the death of George Floyd, and the need to pass legislation to end systemic bias in law enforcement. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks which can also be viewed here:
Yesterday, a jury of former police officer Derek Chauvin’s peers determined that he was guilty of murdering George Floyd, confirming what was plain to the millions of Americans who watched his murder on video. Nine-and-a-half excruciating minutes that documented the senseless and unnecessary loss of one man’s life in broad daylight.
Our country was forever changed by the horrendous video of Derek Chauvin killing Mr. Floyd. His searing final words, screaming for air and calling for his mother, are etched into our memory. This guilty verdict serves as an official proclamation of what so many of us have known for nearly a year: George Floyd was murdered by an officer who was sworn to protect and to serve, but who obviously didn’t.
The brutality of George Floyd’s murder, yet another in a seemingly endless string of tragedies, sparked a summer of protest unlike any we’ve seen in American history, elevating a long-building movement for more justice in policing. Americans of every age, color and creed took to the streets in peaceful protest, from Minneapolis to Maine, and Los Angeles to Atlanta, and my own home city of New York. A community of global citizens would soon join them in protest. In foreign capitals—from Rome, Paris, and London, to Amsterdam, Berlin and Mexico City—the name George Floyd would echo through the public square.
This was not only a fight for justice, but a fight against the mistreatment, discrimination and outright bigotry that Black men and women suffer at the hands of state power, not just here in America, but around the globe.
The death of George Floyd provoked such a reaction because folks in those communities knew a George Floyd of their own. Names of friends and colleagues who were tragically killed or suffered the brutal sting of racism sprang to their tongues. They still do.
Philando Castile. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. Trayvon Martin. Eric Garner. Daniel Prude. Sandra Bland. Each circumstance different, the underlying tragedy much the same. Their names, and countless others, serve as a reminder that a single verdict in a single trial will never be enough.
It wasn’t so long ago that excessive force by police was never caught on iPhones or body cameras. It was out of sight, and often beyond the reach of the law, which gave almost reflexive deference to police officers who were brought to trial—if they were ever brought to trial.
So this was an important event for the American justice system. Not only were the events concerning George Floyd caught on camera, but the offending officer was tried and convicted in a court of law. Let it serve as the proper deterrent—a deterrent that should have existed long ago—to the kind of egregious misconduct that led to George Floyd’s death.
However, most certainly, we should not mistake a guilty verdict in this case as evidence that the persistent problem of police misconduct has been solved, or that the divide between law enforcement and so many of the communities they serve has been bridged. It has not.
We must remain diligent in our efforts to bring meaningful change to police departments across the country, to reform practices and training, and the legal protections that grant too great a shield to police officers guilty of misconduct.
We also must remain diligent in striving to root out racial bias in our society: in our health care system, in jobs and housing and the economy, in the boardroom and at the ballot box, on our streets and in our schools.
This goes way beyond party or political faction. Racism strikes at the very core of this country. Justice—true justice—will not come until we finally banish the ancient poison of racism from the American soul.
The Senate will continue that work as we strive to ensure that George Floyd’s tragic death will not be in vain. We will not rest until the Senate passes strong legislation to end the systemic bias in law enforcement.