Nevada leaders weigh in on guilty verdicts in George Floyd murder case

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From left, U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford, Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford and Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak.

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Statements of support for the verdicts convicting former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd came from Nevada leaders.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak reminded everyone of Floyd’s words: “Please, I can’t breathe.” Sisolak said the verdict should be a “turning point for our country,” and emphasized the work that lies ahead to end systemic racism faced by Black and minority communities.

Sisolak vowed to put in the work alongside state and local leaders and community members to make change happen.

Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford, the state’s top law enforcement official, said, “Today, a jury held George Floyd’s murderer accountable. Mr. Floyd’s life mattered, just as every innocent life taken at the hands law enforcement does. Let this trial serve as evidence that we will no longer tolerate the heinous killings of African-Americans and minorities at the hand of rogue police officers.” 

“Many Nevadans have asked me how I felt about this trial, and to be frank, it was too painful for me to watch. I did not want to relive the trauma – trauma that is, unfortunately, a common re-occurrence for me and so many others. As an African-American, I don’t take the mistreatment of members of my community or any minority community lightly.”

Ford said the fight for justice continues.

“Historically, the relationship between law enforcement and communities of color has been strained, to say the least, and I have always said that law enforcement must make proactive efforts to augment, restore, and create trust.”

“My thoughts and prayers continue to go out to Mr. Floyd’s family. And I reiterate my commitment to all Nevadans to continue an open and honest conversation with you. I will always work to seek justice on your behalf.”  

U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.) said he was “deeply relieved” by the verdict. “In the aftermath of this trial and the deaths of George Floyd, Daunte Wright, Breonna Taylor, and so many others who have lost their lives at the hands of law enforcement, the Senate has a moral obligation to act quickly to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and enact the police accountability legislation that Americans deserve.”

Nevada’s senior U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) said, “This was the right decision. George Floyd should still be alive today. Though the pain experienced by Mr. Floyd’s family, Minneapolis, and all of America cannot be erased, this is a step toward justice. Black Lives Matter. Our work is far from done. We must continue working together to create a stronger, more inclusive justice system that protects all of our communities.”

Laura Martin, executive director of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, echoed Cortez Masto: “George Floyd should still be here.”

Despite the jury’s decision today, there is a long way to go for justice for all people who have been brutalized or killed by the police, or who live in constant fear they could be next. The murder of Nevadans like Jorge Gomez and Miciah Lee illustrate this.

The conviction of Derek Chauvin can not be used as an excuse to forgo meaningful police accountability that includes a reinvestment in community and mutual aid, and away from violent punitive measures. It’s not a single officer who failed George Floyd, Jorge Gomez and our community as a whole, it was the entire system.

But make no mistake, today’s conviction is the result of long term, sustained community organizing and police accountability that has relentlessly challenged an unjust system that routinely let’s killer cops walk free.

We call on all police to be calm, and peaceful. Police should refrain from assaulting citizens and journalists who may publicly demonstrate, or cover today’s historic verdict.

Laura Martin, executive director of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada

Athar Haseebullah, executive director of the ACLU of Nevada, said:

While this verdict brings a certain rare form of accountability for police, achieving this outcome for Mr. Floyd is only one step in addressing police abuse of power, disparate treatment, and excessive force against Black and Brown communities. We still must radically change policing in Nevada and across the country, increase accountability and transparency, and create policies that combat racism in policing.

The jury’s decision to convict Derek Chauvin does not negate the fact that Mr. Floyd’s tragic murder is part of a horrifying local and national pattern of officers using excessive force against people of color. Mr. Floyd was one of more than 5,000 people killed by police since 2015.

Here in Nevada, we have to contend with the fact that we lack sufficient accountability in cases of police violence. Just last week in Las Vegas, the community watched a hollow process unfold in the case of Jorge Gomez, who was gunned down by Metro police during a Black Lives Matter protest in June. Despite significant questions about the police officers’ violent response in that case, the Clark County District Attorney’s office once again passed the buck.

Athar Haseebullah, executive director of the ACLU of Nevada

U.S. Rep. Dina Titus said, “George Floyd’s death shocked the conscience of our country. It inspired a new generation to call out the injustices in our society that too often have been overlooked. The judicial system delivered accountability when it rendered a guilty verdict after carefully considering the evidence, but that does not change fact that George Floyd should be alive today.”

“This verdict should remind us all of what often happens when Black lives are taken and there is no one around to record it. We need systemic reform in this country and I will continue to push the Justice In Policing Act to make that a reality,” Titus said.

And Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Melody Rose issued this statement:

Like many, I was profoundly disturbed by the death of George Floyd last year. In light of today’s verdict in the case of Mr. Floyd’s death, we at NSHE reaffirm our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and the belief that we are stronger together.

Our nation continues to struggle with racially motivated violence, harassment, and discrimination against Black citizens. We have also seen a rise in hate directed at Asian communities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, against our Latino and undocumented communities due to immigration issues, and our LGBTQ communities due to sexual orientation and gender identity.

We need to take time to have difficult conversations regarding racism and discrimination in all forms — inside and outside of the classroom. We must engage in more of these discussions on our campuses and acknowledge the deep-rooted, systemic, and historical racism and discrimination that exists in our country.

By embracing our differences and recognizing that racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual orientation barriers still exist we will better prepare our graduates to fight the injustices that continue to plague our nation. As Chancellor of NSHE, I will continue to listen and advocate for these values.

NSHE Chancellor Melody Rose, Ph.D.

UNLV President Keith E. Whitfield wrote a letter to students that was posted on UNLV’s website. The letter reads, in part:

As your university president, I care deeply about our students, faculty, and staff and I recognize what this trial means to your sense of safety and how society values you. I feel this too. Black Americans who look like me – who look like my stepson – have been killed. Research from the universities of Rutgers, Washington (St. Louis) and Michigan released in 2019, before Mr. Floyd’s death, found the lifetime risk of Black men and boys being killed by police use of force is one in every 1,000. This is an epidemic and unacceptable in a country as great as ours.

Keith E. Whitfield, UNLV President

Whitfield urges students to be part of the solution. “Change is in all of our hands, and we can start with our university.”

Gary Schofield, U.S. Marshal for the District of Nevada, called attention to a local landmark:

On the walls of the rotunda of the Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse are the following words that greet all (who) enter the court.  “The Cornerstone of the American Judicial system is the trial courts … . In which witnesses testify, juries deliberate, and justice is done.” — William H. Rehnquist, Chief Justice of the United States.

With the guilty verdict rendered today in the murder of George Floyd the jury composed of average citizens has again built upon the cornerstone of the American judicial system, the trial court. The United States Marshals and their deputies have protected the federal justice system since 1789 and will continue to protect the rights of citizens as they gather to express their views.

Gary Schofield, U.S. Marshal for the District of Nevada

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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