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'Our work is far from over': Delaware officials react to guilty verdict in Chauvin trial

Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media
A scene from protests in Wilmington following the death of George Floyd last year

Local officials are reacting to the guilty verdicts in the trial of Derek Chauvin for killing George Floyd. 

A jury found Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings says “justice was served” Tuesday. 

But, “one act of justice does not undue 400 years of injustice,” she said. “Racial justice and police reform are as urgent today as they were last spring and last summer.”

Jennings continues to push for policing reform through the state legislature. She, along with civil rights advocates, wants Delaware’s largely subjective use of force statute—which makes it very difficult to prosecute police misconduct—changed. 

Leaders of Delaware’s Legislative Black Caucus said in a statement Tuesday the verdict leaves members “with a strengthened resolve” to keep fighting for justice. 

"In the wake of George Floyd’s killing nearly one year ago, the Delaware Legislative Black Caucus has worked tirelessly on the Justice for All Agenda to ensure that there are protections in place for all of our constituents up and down the state,” said Delaware Legislative Black Caucus Chair Rep. Kendra Johnson and Vice-Chair Rep. Nnamdi Chukwuocha in a joint statement. “That work has continued throughout this session and will continue until we have achieved our goal.”

They said members are preparing legislation to require police videotape all interrogations of suspects and defendants, and an amendment to the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights to allow criminal defendants’ legal counsel to receive internal affairs investigation records.

“The Delaware General Assembly and legislatures across America have real work to do before our neighbors can expect justice, rather than be surprised by it,” said Delaware’s Democratic Senate Majority Caucus in a joint statement Tuesday. “The real triumph comes when Black and Brown lives are no longer lost at the hands of police and everyone is truly safe in their communities.”


The state Law Enforcement Accountability Task Force is currently looking to make recommendations around policing reform to the General Assembly. But some advocates on the group’s subcommittees complain it isn’t working fast enough. The full task force meets April 29th to consider recommendations from its subcommittees.

Democratic Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester, Delaware’s first Black member of Congress, said in a statement Tuesday the verdict brought accountability—but noted it will not return George Floyd to his family. 

“Those shocking and painful images of Mr. Floyd forced us to hold up a mirror to ourselves and to our country,” she said. “We have and we must be forever changed. And while today’s verdict represents accountability delivered in this case - it is now incumbent upon all of us on the federal level to build a more fair and equitable justice system by passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in his memory. Our work is far from over, but make no mistake - today was a step in our long march toward justice.” 

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Delaware) echoed Blunt Rochester’s sentiment. 

“I am committed to working with my colleagues toward the kinds of reforms that will ensure our nation lives up to its promise of equal justice for all,” he said in a statement. 

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Delaware) noted the disparate impact of police violence on Black and brown Americans. 


“Some of the worst vestiges of our country’s past are all too present today in how some in law enforcement treat communities of color, and as leaders there is much work left to build trust between these groups.  Today’s verdict does not repair that relationship, but it is a step - an important step - in the right direction towards accountability, fairness and equal justice. But let me be clear, it cannot be the last step.”

Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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