COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The chief of the Columbia Police Department released a statement in support of the guilty verdict against a former police officer charged in the death of George Floyd.
A jury in Minneapolis found Derek Chauvin guilty of all charges on Tuesday.
Minutes later, Chief Skip Holbrook said “justice has been served.”
While agreeing with the verdict, Holbrook added: “the case was about a bad officer and not a bad profession.”
Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin said he wept when the verdict was read.
“I could not tell if they were tears of joy, sorrow or pain,” he said.
In a statement, the mayor called for healing. He said there is still work to be done, but offered hope.
Here is his statement in full:
“Our nation has collectively prayed for justice delivered through the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, and so we are grateful this jury, after reviewing the conclusive evidence detailing the unnecessary degrees of willful injury used against George Floyd, has reached the decision to hold Derek Chauvin accountable for his criminal acts. We are thankful for their service in their decision.
“I wept at their decision. I could not tell if they were tears of joy, sorrow or pain.
“There are still other incidences of injustice and brutality to be answered for. There is still a need for healing. Too many people still adhere to perspectives that are too far apart. But we should let this verdict stand as a statement and precedent that going forward, when a light is held to the hostility, when the evidence of intolerance is examined and put before the public view, the truth of our collective will to see fairness and justice for all of our citizens will be made clear.
“Let our prayers now focus on relief for George Floyd’s family and his community, and for our nation and its healing. And let our citizens know that our great City, the City of Columbia, is committed to real, substantive changes in how we ensure tolerance, fairness, and justice.
“With my prayers for healing and peace, Mayor Steve Benjamin.”
Columbia City Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine called for unity and equity.
“The best way I can think to honor George Floyd and his family is by working tirelessly to change our broken systems until all children have the opportunity to grow up and live long and happy lives,” she wrote in a statement shared on Twitter.
The president of the University of South Carolina, Bob Caslen, also issued a statement:
“Our thoughts are with the family of George Floyd and all those who have been the victims of violence fueled by racism and hatred in our country. The University of South Carolina recognizes the emotional trauma associated with this trial and acknowledges that this verdict does not solve longstanding issues of institutional racism and injustice in our society.
“These events are evidence of the divisions that continue to run through our society, the legacy of a dark past that we have not yet fully reconciled. We must commit to becoming a more just and equitable society. I encourage all who are affected by this event to take care of your mental health and reach out to care available to you.”
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-SC, talked to reporters via a video chat.
Sen. Tim Scott, R-SC, said he agrees with the verdict, while also expressing his support for those in law enforcement.
“There is no question in my mind that jury reached the right verdict,” Scott said.
He added: “While this outcome should give us renewed confidence in the integrity of our justice system, we know there is more work to be done to ensure the bad apples do not define all officers – the vast majority of whom put on the uniform each day with integrity and servant hearts.”
Also on the national level, President Joe Biden had a phone conversation with George Floyd’s family moments after the verdict was shared with the public.
Watch that live from Attorney Ben Crump’s Twitter page:
The president shared words of comfort and said this verdict is the start of something. He said Floyd would change the world.
“I wish I was there to put my arms around you,” Biden told the family. “We are all so relieved.”
Former president Barack Obama also shared a statement that began, “Today, a jury did the right thing.”
Read his statement in full: