CINCINNATI — Tri-State leaders and activists responded Tuesday afternoon to the murder conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the May 2020 death of George Floyd.
"In some ways, it was a relief," said activist Cory Brown Tuesday evening. "The fact of the matter is that, as much as this moment is a win, we still have a lot of work to do."
Long-time advocate for police reform Iris Roley said the ruling was bittersweet.
"They saw him, and they decided and determined that his life mattered in the court of law," she said. "So, it gives you a continued sense of, yes, let's continue the fight."
Roley was instrumental in crafting the Collaborative Agreement between the city, the police union and Black community and civil rights leaders following the 2001 death of Timothy Thomas, an unarmed Black man, at the hands of a Cincinnati police officer.
Cincinnati police Chief Eliot Isaac renewed his condemnation of Chauvin's actions and called for Cincinnati residents to remain peaceful in the aftermath of the jury's decision.
"I have said multiple times before that I denounce the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May of 2020 by former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin," Isaac said in a written statement. "I understood the angst that came the days, weeks, and months following the death of Mr. Floyd. As both a Black man and a police officer, I too was angry."
Isaac went on to urge that any subsequent demonstrations remain peaceful.
"I encourage the citizens of Cincinnati to please express their emotions in a respectful and peaceful manner. The Cincinnati Police Department is committed to fair and impartial policing. Providing a safe environment for citizens to be heard and for all citizens to remain safe is essential," he said.
Here is a statement from Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot K. Isaac about the verdict that was reached in the Derek Chauvin trial on Tuesday. pic.twitter.com/e0DQthyssM— Cincinnati Police Department (@CincyPD) April 20, 2021
Following Floyd's death last spring, multiple communities in the Greater Cincinnati area saw days of protests calling for police reform and other social justice measures. A small number of protesters turned destructive, damaging property in downtown Cincinnati and Over-the-Rhine, resulting in confrontations with police. Mayor John Cranley quickly ordered a curfew, and more than 300 protesters were arrested and charged with breaking curfew in the early days after Floyd's death.
In the months since, Cincinnati City Council has moved to dismiss many of those charges.
Cranley issued a statement Tuesday afternoon, as well, saying Floyd's life "mattered" and that "justice was served."
"By a jury of his own peers, Derek Chauvin was found guilty of what we all gruesomely watched with our own eyes," Cranley said.
The life of George Floyd mattered. pic.twitter.com/CrSMbLfwIa— John Cranley (@JohnCranley) April 20, 2021
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine issued a statement saying the justice system "worked."
"The jury members listened to both sides, weighed the evidence and came to this verdict," he said. "As we go forward as a nation, we must learn from the tragic death of George Floyd."
Hamilton County Sheriff Charmaine McGuffey said, "Due diligence was given and justice was served. We have a long way to go to rebuild trust in the community and bridge gaps between law enforcement and people who have suffered the inequities of actions that lead to unfair treatment.
"This verdict is a necessary step in the healing process that our nation must endure.”
McGuffey's counterpart in Butler County, Sheriff Richard Jones, also took the occasion to call for any demonstrations to remain peaceful.
"This country has a justice system in place that allows both sides to present evidence and for a jury to decide the final outcome, and for those who have committed a criminal offense, to be held accountable in a court of law," Jones said. "We need to build our nation up by conversation and understanding, not tear it down with more hate, hostility and violence. While George Floyd’s family has suffered a great loss, hopefully this verdict will bring a margin of peace to their family."
Ohio state Senator, former Cincinnati City Councilman and Cincinnati mayoral hopeful Cecil Thomas also issued a statement, saying Chauvin's conviction is not an endpoint.
"Today, we saw justice in Minneapolis, but we must still move forward in pushing for bias-free, problem-solving police departments. No one should feel threatened by members of law enforcement who are sworn to protect them," he said.
Thomas is also a veteran of the Cincinnati Police Department.
Hamilton County Commissioner Stephanie Summerow-Dumas said, "The verdict is in. However, the work is far from over. May we strive and peacefully unite in the pursuit of equal liberty and justice for all."
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said the former officer "dishonored his badge and a noble profession."
"What Derek Chauvin did to George Floyd is murder. He killed more than a man -- he nearly killed the hope of justice. The jury called it murder and restored that hope," Yost said.
Chauvin was convicted of second- and third-degree murder and third-degree manslaughter. Widely-circulated video footage showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes after receiving reports that Floyd had tried to use counterfeit money.