Houston-area officials, advocates react to guilty verdicts in George Floyd murder

George Floyd protest
The death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, prompted scores of demonstrations nationwide, including his hometown of Houston. (Community Impact Newspaper file photo)

The death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, prompted scores of demonstrations nationwide, including his hometown of Houston. (Community Impact Newspaper file photo)

After 10 hours of deliberations over two days, a jury announced its verdict April 20: Derek Chauvin was guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.

Black Lives Matter Houston planned a vigil at 7 p.m. April 20 at MacGregor Park, 5225 Calhoun Road, to observe the historic decision.

Across the city of Houston, Floyd's hometown, local officials and advocates shared messages of solidarity and commitment to reforms in the wake of the announcement:

"The jury has spoken, but it is time for this country to reach deep down and find a way to move forward. Because as we deal with issues on multiple levels, we need the community and law enforcement to work hand in hand in the best interest of the people we serve. It is a time to be reflective and ask what we can do to make our city better, our country better, and find ways to work together," Mayor Sylvester Turner said.

"On this day, we say his name: George Floyd. His face is seared into our memory, and his final words have pierced our hearts," Houston ISD interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said. "His image is emblazoned on murals from all over the world to Jack Yates High School, his alma mater. An HISD alum awakened not only the moral consciousness of a nation, but the world. That is George Floyd’s legacy—and now a part of HISD’s history. But our future can be different by shifting the dialogue on social justice in our country. ... I firmly believe students will take the lessons they learn in our classrooms and build a better future for all of us."

“As someone who has worn a badge and uniform for nearly 30 years, these cases that cause distrust of the diverse women and men who put their lives at risk daily are always painful.," Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia said. "However, to have a verdict like this, when there’s overwhelming evidence, is critical to prove that we can hold those who violate the public trust accountable for their actions. Looking ahead, it is important that our communities and law enforcement commit to working together on a path forward that will bring meaningful change."

"Today, we celebrate that one police officer guilty of murdering our Black brothers and sisters has been held accountable," said Lacy Wolf, president of the Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation, who served on the city's police reform task force. "Prosecuting the murderers of George Floyd was only a first step. Until the lives of Black people matter as much as whites, dismantling the racism embedded in our institutions must be our objective. We continue to demand police forces be transformed into institutions that protect the public they serve, and will continue to use our collective power to protect the lives of black and brown people.”

"Justice is served. Rest In Power, George Floyd," Houston City Council Member Leticia Plummer said in a statement.

"There may be justice in a court of law for #GeorgeFloyd’s family, but he was still murdered. We must continue to push for meaningful criminal justice reform and tackle institutionalized racism head on," Houston City Council Member Abbie Kamin said.

"We have much work to do to ensure justice for all Americans. Justice and progress require constant engagement and real commitment to doing the work we must do to improve our laws, our law enforcement, and to confront our country’s history and the systems around us that perpetuate inequality and injustice, especially in communities of color. This work can and must be done, and now is the time to do it," Rep. Lizzie Fletcher, D-Houston, said.