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WASHINGTON – Former President Barack Obama said the conviction of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, who was found guilty in the killing of George Floyd last May, was “a necessary step on the road to progress” but “it was far from a sufficient one.”
Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama issued a statement after Chauvin was found guilty of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
“For almost a year, George Floyd's death under the knee of a police officer has reverberated around the world – inspiring murals and marches, sparking conversations in living rooms and new legislation. But a more basic question has always remained: would justice be done?” the statement said. “In this case, at least, we have our answer. But if we're being honest with ourselves, we know that true justice is about much more than a single verdict in a single trial.”
Floyd's death last year spurred nationwide protests against systemic racism and calls for police reform. Obama praised the millions who protested following Floyd's death, saying “justice is closer today not simply because of this verdict, but because of their work.”
However, Obama, the first Black president of the United States, also noted more work needs to be done for “true justice.”
“True justice requires that we come to terms with the fact that Black Americans are treated differently, every day,” Obama said, adding that there are still many who “fear that their next encounter with law enforcement could be their last.”
After Chauvin's guilty verdict:A trial for American policing, the struggle for public trust begins anew
Obama called for concrete reforms “that will reduce and ultimately eliminate racial bias in our criminal justice system.”
“We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with all those who are committed to guaranteeing every American the full measure of justice that George and so many others have been denied,” the Obamas said in the statement.
Contributing: Grace Hauck, N'dea Yancey-Bragg, Tami Abdollah, Kevin McCoy, Eric Ferkenhoff
Reach Rebecca Morin at Twitter @RebeccaMorin_