Local progressive elected officials respond to Chauvin verdict

PHILADELPHIA, April 20 -- A coalition of local progressive elected officials issued the following statement on the unanimous guilty verdicts in the Derek Chauvin case, and called for systemic change through a new vision of public safety that ends the continual increasing of police budgets, instead investing in communities and public services that prevent violence in all forms. State Sen. Nikil Saval, City Councilmembers Helen Gym, Kendra Brooks and Jamie Gauthier, and State Reps. Elizabeth Fiedler, Rick Krajewski and Chris Rabb issued the following statement: 

“The violence that was done to George Floyd was simultaneously singular and universal. It was violence enacted on his body, and it was violence done to a family, to a community, to a nation, and to an entire world. The jury’s verdicts signify that the murder committed has been recognized as such by the State: a murder. 

“This is a reflection of ‘justice’ in accordance with our current systems. But these verdicts alone do not bring healing to a grieving family and to Black and Brown communities across our country. They do not right the fundamental injustice that George Floyd should be alive today. And they do not change the reality that throughout our city and country today, people feel unsafe in their own communities. People feel unsafe because housing is insecure, their families struggle paycheck to paycheck, and if violence happens, few structural supports exist to deescalate a situation and to help people heal. 

“We have seen firsthand that we cannot incarcerate our way out of structural problems, including the problem of police violence. In order to achieve true justice and safety, we need to tackle the causes of police violence at their roots: white supremacy and racial capitalism. 

“We need to recognize the distinction between what truly keeps us safe and what perpetuates systemic harm. The criminalization of poverty, hyper surveillance of communities of color, and militarization of police do not keep our communities safe. We must redirect the money spent on systems of oppression and instead invest in community resources and services, in housing, and in public schools. We must commit to following the leads of the communities who are most directly impacted and can best shape a new vision of public safety.”