[WASHINGTON, DC] – AFSCME President Lee Saunders issued the following statement regarding the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd:
“Justice was served today in the State of Minnesota v. Derek Michael Chauvin. After so many African American lives have been taken with impunity, this guilty verdict is an enormous relief and sends a powerful message. After a year of pain, trauma and tension in our communities, today’s verdict is a reaffirmation that a badge is not a license to commit violent crime.
“But accountability for a single act of brutality does not solve the underlying crisis: deeply entrenched, structural, systemic racism that continues to poison every American institution and every aspect of American life. To address that problem, there is a lot of very difficult work ahead, work that AFSCME is committed to leading.
“As a union with a rich history of fighting for civil rights, and as a union with some 90,000 members who work in law enforcement, AFSCME believes effective policing and racial justice can and must go hand in hand. We support commonsense reforms – including additional resources for education, mental health and other social services without divesting resources from law enforcement – that allow the police to focus on violent crime, while other public service workers take the lead in solving other problems in the community.
“We cannot let today’s verdict allow us to become complacent about the challenges we face. We have to do better. Black people in America are exhausted with fear and anxiety every single day. Today’s verdict is appropriate punishment for a single crime. But to honor the memory of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Adam Toledo and so many others whose only ‘crime’ was being Black, we must work with greater effort and urgency than ever to bend the arc toward racial justice.”