NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Leaders across the country, including Tennessee, are now looking beyond the verdict in the George Floyd case to see what comes next to help prevent similar deadly encounters between law enforcement and the citizens they serve.
When the judge read the verdict for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, Tennessee House of Representatives Minority Leader Karen Camper felt jurors made the right decision.
“I think it was a just verdict,” said Rep. Camper (D-Memphis). “I felt that although it’s a just verdict it doesn’t solve all the injustices over the years that our country has seen and even our state has seen.”
During the summer of 2020, Nashville residents joined others nationwide by hosting protests that called for justice in the murder of George Floyd. Camper said the video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck was the catalyst for unifying much of the country in this quest for justice.
“I think of our members [of the House] and the country as a whole as we were watching during the pandemic. People were at home and they were having a face-to-face look at their country,” she said. “I think about the pain and anguish and I remember when this was going on and some mothers were when they saw him, they wept but they were weeping for ‘that could be my son, that could be my nephew. But I do believe that they feel that somehow now, law enforcement can be held accountable.”
Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake released a statement saying he knew Chauvin was in the wrong since the incident came to light last year.
“It was abundantly clear to me last May that what happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis was an atrocious crime committed by a police officer. While this afternoon’s verdict properly holds the man responsible for Mr. Floyd’s death accountable, I hope that it also creates momentum for communities and law enforcement to meaningfully work together in new ways to strengthen relationships and partnerships for the sake of us all.”Chief John Drake
Several Tennessee leaders weighed in on the verdict, including Tennessee House Republican Caucus Chairman Jeremy Faison.
“From the earliest of our development, we as humans believe in justice. Even as a young child, we demand justice when we’ve been wronged,” he stated on Twitter while sharing a news article about the case. “Justice was served.”
Representative Camper said the road to racial equity will be lengthy.
“I think this started a conversation that will definitely continue. I think we have a long way to go but it is a step,” she said. “People’s minds are at least open to dialogue. We’re having conversations with people across the state who were never at the table before and I think that’s great. I want to see people more compassionate about dealing with this issue.”