Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted Tuesday on all three counts stemming from last year’s murder of George Floyd. Here’s a sampling of reactions from El Pasoans.
Abeni Merriweather, 19, sophomore, commercial music major at UTEP.
“While I’m glad he was found guilty, I’m not to optimistic yet regarding the sentencing. I fear that he’ll have a light sentence, and personally, any sentence that isn’t life in prison isn’t good enough. As a Black woman in El Paso, it still pains and infuriates me to see the racism that flourishes within this city, seeing many El Pasoans post and comment that they don’t think Derek Chauvin did anything wrong, as well as sharing racist memes and comments about George Floyd and Black Lives Matter. It really shows the anti-Blackness that runs through the community here, and really brings light to just how racist people in El Paso can be, despite many people saying El Paso doesn’t have racism. Maybe the racial harmony and how Black people are treated and viewed here will get better over time, but I’m not too hopeful about that either.”
U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-El Paso:
El Paso Police Department comment: Police Sgt. Enrique Carrillo said the El Paso Police Department has contingency plans to address situations that may arise as a result of the verdict. He wouldn’t elaborate. Police Chief Greg Allen had no comment on the verdict.
Dora Oaxaca, El Paso Democratic Party chairperson: “No one hates a bad cop worse than good cops. We hope this is a start for police reform and a new way of dealing with communities of color. We urge that all law enforcement departments hold their police officers accountable.”
Dominique Huerta, interim president, El Paso Young Democrats: “First and foremost, our organization wants to acknowledge that George Floyd should very much be alive right now. This shouldn’t have happened. In regards to the trial and verdict, we had no expectations. A guilty or not guilty verdict cannot bring back the lives lost by white supremacy. Justice from the very system that oppresses people simply doesn’t exist. We have to take care of our Black friends and family. That comes from the community. The organization also wants to note that the El Paso County Democratic Party must re-evaluate their words when putting out statements. To say that ‘police reform should include new ways of dealing with communities of color’ only continues the racism and rhetoric further. The El Paso County Democrats displays a negligence for the systemic hold racism has on our policing system. Police reform cannot change this.”
Former U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Helotes, who represented part of El Paso County:
Sydney Nixon, senior communications major at UTEP: “I don’t think that this is justice. I am happy, because in many ways this is a ‘win.’ But at the same time, Black bodies deserve the justice system to work for us at all times, not just when people raise hell and or protest.”
Ouisa Davis, El Paso attorney: “This verdict – unanimous, on all counts, every homicide charge upheld beyond a reasonable doubt – is a modicum of relief. Relief for a justice system that seems to let us down, vindication for the ghost of George Floyd whose life was snuffed out by an abusive police officer.
“But it’s only one. It does not speak to the Breonna Taylors, the Ahmaud Arberys, the Tamir Rices, or the Daunte Wrights, and the unseen and unknown victims of police abuse in America. This verdict is a first step and shows the need for reform of policing. Law enforcement is here to serve the public, not to engage in excessive force or similar activities when enforcing the law. I am thankful for body camera videos, for bystander videos, for the voices who called out in defense of Mr. Floyd. And I am grateful that Mr. Chauvin has been held culpable for the murder he caused.
“But the work has just begun. We have a lot of work to do and I hope our local law enforcement leaders are prepared for the changes for which this verdict calls. The community wants change; public servants must change. No longer is excessive force acceptable or excusable. It is time for systemic change and overhaul of the existing law enforcement culture.”
Gabriel Solis, an El Paso native and Ph.D. student at Columbia University who was tear gassed at a Memorial Park Protest last year: “First and foremost, I hope that today’s ruling has brought some sense of closure to George Floyd’s family, who has suffered so much. Yet the system that people mobilized against this summer remains intact: it is critical we don’t let this decision trick us into imagining the change we are seeking has arrived. I hope that we continue to organize for an abolitionist future, an abolition democracy, without prisons, borders or police. It was that vision, born of the Black radical tradition, that I stood behind last summer, and that’s the vision I hope to follow in the days to come.”
County Commissioner David Stout:
Fernando Garcia, executive director of the Border Network for Human Rights and a member of the Justicia for El Paso Coalition seeking police reform in El Paso: “I think the fact that he was found guilty on all of the charges, I think it’s a very strong statement.” Garcia said the issue of police brutality and police violence is now bigger than Floyd. “We really hope that the case of George Floyd is not the exception because it was so high profile, because everyday things are happening, shootings, beatings, mistreatment, harassment, all of those are happening every day throughout the nation.”
J.J. Martinez, UTEP philosophy major and president of the Texas College Democrats: “George Floyd should be alive today. While today’s verdict is a step in accountability, it is not justice. And we cannot talk about it as if it were. Derek Chauvin is the result of a policing system that was built on and for white supremacy. And too many Black lives have been lost to it — one life is one too many. True justice is the end of police murdering Black lives. True justice is the end of this racist and violent system. True justice is a nation that believes that Black Lives Matter.”
Monica Tucker, publisher of El Paso Black Pages and Black El Paso Voice: “So many view the border as not being an area in which we have to worry about an uprising against Black people, but if you scan any media entity’s social media comments regarding this situation, dating back to when that man murdered Mr. Floyd, you will be privy to the exact stance that many El Pasoans, and sadly, many of our Brown/Black brothers and sisters, have about a Black man being murdered by someone in authority. It’s scary for some, but for most of us, we will stay vigilant and wise and use our right to carry to protect ourselves. These are uncertain times and we have to protect ourselves.”
State Rep. Art Fierro, D-El Paso: