Reaction to the 22.5-year prison sentence of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd came swift Friday, with some corners voicing displeasure that he wasn’t handed down the maximum.
“Very disappointing. #ChauvinSentencing,” Van Jones tweeted shortly after Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill imposed his punishment.
“What this man did. It should have been the maximum of the maximum,” Jones said. “It’s a punch in the gut. This guy’s life was worth more than 15 years.” Chauvin was sentenced to 22.5 years.
In his sentencing memo, Cahill said Chauvin “treated Mr. Floyd without respect and denied him the dignity owed to all human beings.” Prosecutors had asked him to impose a 30-year sentence. Chauvin still faces federal charges for allegedly violating Floyd’s civil rights.
Floyd died on May 25, 2020 after Chauvin pressed his knee on the back of Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. The incident was filmed by bystanders and unleashed months of protests, riots and calls for police reform and racial justice.
Thre other former Minneapolis officers involved in Floyd’s arrest – Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane – are scheduled to go on trial next year on charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
In a news conference, civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton noted the sentence was the longest for a police officer in Minnesota history but was shorter than what was appropriate.
Blake was shot and paralyzed last summer by a Wisconsin police officer and Wright was killed by a suburban Minneapolis police officer during a traffic stop earlier this year. That officer, Kim Potter, was fired from the Brooklyn Center police force and is charged with second-degree manslaughter.
Brandon Williams, Floyd’s nephew, said Chauvin deserved a life sentence, noting that video footage showed Chauvin pressing down on Floyd as he repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe while face down on the ground and not resisting.
“We got justice but not enough justice,” he told reporters. “So I won’t celebrate this. But I will celebrate a guilty conviction on a police officer that killed a Black man. There are some positive things to take away from this, but this 22.5 years just isn’t one for me.”
Floyd’s brother, Rodney Floyd, called it a “slap on the wrist.” While meeting with Afghan leaders in the Oval Office, President Joe Biden said the sentence “seems to be appropriate.”
“How long has he been sentenced to? Biden asked. “I don’t know all the circumstances that were considered but it seems to me under the guidelines that seems to be appropriate.”
In a statement, Ben Crump, the attorney for the Floyd family, said the sentencing was “one step closer to healing by delivering closure and accountability.”
“For once, a police officer who wrongly took the life of a Black man was held to account. While this shouldn’t be exceptional, tragically it is. Day after day, year after year, police kill Black people without consequence,” he said.
He also urged the Senate to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a bill that seeks to enact sweeping police reform measures. In March, the legislation was passed in the House in a mostly party-line vote.
In a statement, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., said the sentence was a step in the right direction but that punishment for past crimes is not true justice.
“True justice will require us as a community and a nation to address the systems of oppression that create the conditions for injustice,” she said. “True justice will require us to understand how those who take an oath to protect us repeatedly take the lives of young Black and brown people.”
Martin Luther King III said the punishment “fell short of what true justice would look like for Mr. Floyd and his family.”
“Full Accountability is key to creating an unbiased justice system…DISAPPOINTED!” he tweeted.
NFL quarterback Robert Griffin III noted that some prison inmates are serving life sentences for nonviolent crimes.
“22.5 years is not enough for Derek Chauvin MURDERING George Floyd in broad daylight when we have people serving life sentences for non violent crimes,” he tweeted.
Piers Morgan was frank in his thought about Chauvin.
“BREAKING: The moment George Floyd’s killer cop Derek Chauvin heard he was being jailed for 22.5 years for his despicable crime. Rot in jail you callous pr*ck,” he wrote.
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