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After the Chauvin Verdict: 'This Is Our Selma Moment'

Reaction and backlash after ex-cop Derek Chauvin was found guilty for the murder of George Floyd
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 21, 2021 6:49 AM CDT

(Newser) – The aftereffects of the guilty verdict against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd are still being felt across the nation and around the world, with one of Floyd's brothers noting, "This is a day for celebration," per CNN. Tuesday was also a day that overcame the odds, per the Washington Post, which notes that Chauvin was the "rare police officer convicted of murder." Even though prosecutors ostensibly faced an uphill climb, based on precedence, it was difficult for the defense to overcome the "overwhelming case" brought by the prosecution, which included a slew of credible witnesses and the trial's "centerpiece": the video showing Floyd being murdered. "The defense was boxed in, in many ways, and had to make the case [Chauvin's] conduct was reasonable," a Bowling Green State University criminologist says. "But the problem is, you can't rationally explain Derek Chauvin's conduct." More reaction:

  • '13 key moments': The New York Times outlines what happened during the trial to turn the tide against Chauvin, including "a rare condemnation of an officer by an acting police chief."
  • Hope from activists: "This is our Selma moment," NAACP President Derrick Johnson said after the verdict, noting that he hoped the ruling would provide the momentum for people to get behind legislation named after Floyd that would target police misconduct, per USA Today.
  • The rest of America: The Times positioned photographers around the nation to capture reaction before and after the verdict. See photos here, from Minneapolis and DC, to Los Angeles, New York, and Houston, where Floyd grew up.

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  • Cringe from an NFL team: President Biden and Vice President Harris weren't the only ones who expressed relief over the verdict—but not everyone's reaction was well received. In a tweet, the Las Vegas Raiders wrote: "I can breathe," along with the date of the Chauvin's guilty verdict. (Floyd was heard saying "I can't breathe" as he was being killed by Chauvin.) Among those who reacted to the Raiders' tweet: LeBron James. "This is real???? Nah man this ain't it at all. The F^%K!!!!," the NBA star tweeted.
  • Doubling down: Team owner Mark Davis took responsibility for the tweet, saying it was his idea, inspired by Floyd's brother Philonise, who noted after the verdict: "I can breathe again." "If I offended the family, then I'm deeply, deeply disappointed," Davis told the Athletic. Bizarrely, however, Davis is refusing to take down the tweet, per the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "It's already out there," he said, adding that he didn't know the phrase "I can breathe" was used by police supporters after the death of Eric Garner. "I'm not embarrassed by what I said, but I did learn something."
  • Nancy Pelosi also takes heat: One of the lawmakers praising the verdict was the House speaker, but her wording raised eyebrows. "Thank you, George Floyd, for sacrificing your life for justice," she said on Tuesday, which immediately drew backlash, per CNN. "Nancy Pelosi thanks George Floyd for being murdered," a HuffPost editor noted. Pelosi later added a tweet clarifying her thoughts: "George Floyd should be alive today. His family's calls for justice for his murder were heard around the world. He did not die in vain."
  • More backlash in Minneapolis: The city's mayor, Jacob Frey, took flak as well for his reaction, tweeting that although "George Floyd came to Minneapolis to better his life ... ultimately his life will have bettered our city," per Mediaite. Some compared his remarks to Pelosi's tone deafness, noting it's inappropriate to say something like that while people are grieving. "I guess the liberal line really is going to be 'sad he's dead, but it turned out good in the end,'" was one comment.
  • From conservative circles: Tucker Carlson raised ire online with what the Independent deemed a "bizarre rant" after the verdict, claiming without evidence that the jury was "intimidated" by the Black Lives Matter movement, and that it was "an attack on civilization."
  • Marjorie Taylor Greene weighs in: The GOP congresswoman tweeted that DC was "completely dead" on Tuesday night because people were holed up at home, afraid of riots after the verdict, per the Daily Beast. She was immediately called out by Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan, who tweeted: "I'm in DC like @mtgreenee & she is either the most obtuse person elected to Congress or the biggest liar. People are out & about on a warm night (so loud by me it's a bit hard to get to sleep) & there is no more police presence than usual."
(Read more Derek Chauvin stories.)

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