Obama says justice is 'closer today' because of Chauvin verdict and work of activists

Barack Obama.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Former President Barack Obama is glad that a "jury in Minneapolis did the right thing" on Tuesday when it found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murdering George Floyd, but said if Americans are being "honest with ourselves, we know that true justice is about much more than a single verdict in a single trial."

Video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes last May sparked protests and conversations around the world, Obama said in a statement released Tuesday evening, and there was always a question of whether justice would be served. The guilty verdict is a "necessary step on the road to progress," Obama said, but is "far from a sufficient one. We cannot rest."

There needs to be "concrete reforms that will reduce and ultimately eliminate racial bias in our criminal justice system," Obama continued. "We will need to redouble efforts to expand economic opportunity for those communities that have been too long marginalized." For there to be "true justice," the country needs to "come to terms with the fact that Black Americans are treated differently, every day," Obama said. "It requires us to recognize that millions of our friends, family, and fellow citizens live in fear that their next encounter with law enforcement could be their last."

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The fight continues, he declared, but "we can draw strength from the millions of people — especially young people — who have marched and protested and spoken up over the last year, shining a light on inequity and calling for change. Justice is closer today not simply because of this verdict, but because of their work." Obama promised to stand "shoulder-to-shoulder" alongside former first lady Michelle Obama and those who are "committed to guaranteeing every American the full measure of justice that George and so many others have bene denied."

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for TheWeek.com. Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and EW.com, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.