Nelson responds to guilty verdict in Derek Chauvin trial

CHELTENHAM, April 20 – In response to the jury’s guilty verdict Tuesday in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd, state Rep. Napoleon Nelson, D-Montgomery, offered this statement: 

“George Floyd was murdered. 

“A year ago, in the midst of a pandemic, America was confronted with the brutal reality of the relationship between police and people of color. It has taken nearly a full year to begin the process of closure for this one incident. Regardless of today’s verdict – which, in my opinion, was the right one and the only reasonable conclusion – the country has a long way to go before we can talk about equal treatment under the law. I still feel conflicting senses of relief and disbelief. 

“Derek Chauvin took the life of another man. He was a police officer, responding to a call, wearing his uniform and badge, working alongside his fellow officers. But Derek Chauvin yielded all of those trappings when he kneeled on Mr. Floyd’s neck. He had the opportunity to save a man’s life, and he decided to continue to expel it instead. We saw it. We could almost feel it, not just in the pit of our stomach, but in our chest and our throat. We prayed together. I even admit to you now that as a Black man, a father and local leader, I sometimes sought private spaces where I could cry in solitude. 

“Today feels a little different, though. Today I breathe. I do not feel joy in this moment. I am not celebrating this verdict, but the verdict does reinforce my belief that justice remains possible in this country. Healing and reconciliation remain possible. Change is possible. Forgiveness – perhaps the hardest to achieve and the most integral to attain – remains possible in America. 

“George Floyd’s life had value, but we will sadly remember him for how he died. Let our collective memories serve to bind our community tighter.”