Christian leaders respond to guilty verdict in George Floyd's death

As news broke this morning that former US police officer Derek Chauvin has been found guilty of murdering George Floyd, thousands took to social media and to the streets to express their reaction to the verdict.

The jury found Chauvin guilty on all three counts – second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter – in the death of 46-year-old George Floyd on May 25, 2020.

The verdict came after ten hours of deliberation over two days.

Chauvin now faces up to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced in eight weeks’ time, although he is likely to receive far less time due to Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines.

Following the announcement of the guilty verdict, crowds outside the courthouse and across the US erupted with cheers and the honking of car horns.

Christian leaders were among those who took to social media just minutes afterwards.

Among them were US Pentecostal Bishop TD Jakes, who spoke out about racism following Floyd’s death while warning against violent protests. In the wake of this verdict he said, “While we are delighted by the jury’s verdict, we are mindful that there’s still a lot of work ahead of us.

“Our criminal justice system remains deeply flawed. Black people disproportionately remain victims of police brutality and are more likely to be pulled over or cited for negligible or phantom traffic violations. Let us not relent in our efforts to press our local, state and federal elected officials for police reform, particularly as it relates to qualified immunity, bias training, de-escalation training and uniform hiring standards.⁣

“My prayer is that this will ignite a safer society where justice is equally allocated to absolutely everyone irrespective of socio-economics, race, religion or gender. Thank you to the many officers who do not stoop to such atrocities and honestly work toward protecting us every day.”

 

 

#Repost @bishopjakes
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The jury sent an unmistakable message today that George Floyd’s death was unnecessary and…

Posted by T.D. Jakes on Tuesday, April 20, 2021

 

Reverend Raphael Warnock, senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta and a senator for the State of Georgia, said while the verdict was right, there is still much to be done “not only to create true justice that prevents more senseless killing of Black people, but to push our system closer to our ideals of equal protection under the law.”

US Vice President Kamala Harris, who identifies herself as a Baptist, although not a Christian leader in the sense of being in a position of leadership in the denomination, echoed these sentiments, saying:

Brenda Blackhawk, a congregational organiser for racial justice with the Minneapolis Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, said her initial reaction to the verdict was one of relief.

“That’s what the community really needed to see and hear, especially in the midst of another young Black man [Daunte Wright] being murdered,” Blackhawk told Sojourners. “This is just holding one person accountable — and that’s important, that’s a good piece of justice, but there is so much work left to be done to change the system as a whole.”

She said that while the verdict was a “ray of hope” amid a “frustrating and exhausting” season, some in her community wondered if people across the country would continue addressing police violence as a systemic issue.

Christian activist and author who is a leading figure in the New Monasticism movement Shane Claiborne tweeted:

“The jury in this case deliberated and made a unanimous guilty verdict. Unfortunately, the guilty verdict won’t bring George Floyd back to the dinner table with his family and friends,” said Marshal Ausberry, pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Fairfax Station, Virginia, and SBC first vice president. “It is a tragic loss, and there are no winners.”

Ausberry, who is also president of the National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention, added: “The death of George Floyd is one more horrific memory added to the historical trauma that African Americans live with every day. While we don’t know Derrick Chauvin’s motivations, his actions resulted in a needless and senseless death. I pray for Derrick Chauvin and his family as they also have to live with the consequences of his actions.

“I pray for George Floyd’s family as they grieve their loss and that God grants them peace. I pray that the justice delivered will help the healing process for them and their community. I hope that the death of George Floyd will bring about police reform throughout the nation. There are many good and dutiful law enforcement personnel – we cannot taint all of them with the actions of Derrick Chauvin. But when law enforcement personnel cross the blue line, they need to be subject to swift justice.”

  • Amendment: Eternity recognises that not everyone considers US Vice President Kamala Harris as a “Christian leader”. As such we have amended this sentence to further clarify her inclusion here.

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