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Minnesota AG: Chauvin's verdict is 'accountability, which is the first step towards justice'

Minnesota AG: Chauvin's verdict is 'accountability, which is the first step towards justice'
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Minnesota Attorney General Keith EllisonKeith EllisonState trial for former officers charged in George Floyd's death moved to next year Lawyer for former officer charged in George Floyd death alleges witness coercion Ruling clears way for longer Chauvin sentence in George Floyd murder MORE (D) on Tuesday hailed the guilty verdict for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd, calling it the "first step towards justice."

“I would not call today's verdict justice, however, because justice implies true restoration. But it is accountability, which is the first step towards justice,” Ellison said minutes after the judge read Chauvin's three guilty verdicts.

Ellison added that the “cause of justice” is now in the hands of the American public.

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“And now the cause of justice is in your hands. And when I say your hands, I mean the hands of the people of the United States," Ellison said.

Ellison, who led the effort to prosecute Chauvin, added that the verdict is a reminder that the country must make “enduring, systemic, societal change" and that Tuesday’s judgment should be used as an “inflection point.”

“What if we just prevented the problem instead of having to try these cases? We don't want any more community members dying at the hands of law enforcement and their families lives’ ruined,” Ellison said.

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“We don't want any more law enforcement members having to face criminal charges, and their families lives’ ruined. We don't want any more communities torn apart,” he added.

Ellison said “one way to prevent this” is to build a new relationship between law enforcement and the citizens they are meant to protect, calling for a more "empathetic, compassionate and affirming" relationship.

“That will benefit everyone, including police officers who deserve to serve in a profession that is honored in departments, where they don't have to worry about colleagues who don't follow the rules,” Ellison said.

Chauvin was convicted of all charges against him on Tuesday: second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.

Floyd's death in May sparked protests in Minneapolis and around the country, spurring calls for police reform and renewing discussions about race relations.

Ellison said Tuesday that the “work of our generation” is to “finally put an end to racism.”

“Now that that work is in your hands, the work of our generation is to put an end to the vestiges of Jim Crow and the centuries of trauma, and finally put an end to racism. We can end it, it doesn’t have to be with us into the future if we decide now to have true liberty and justice for all,” Ellison said. 

“The work of our generation is to say goodbye to old practices that don't serve us anymore, and to put them all behind us. One conviction, even one like this one, can create a powerful new opening to shed old focuses and reset relationships,” he added.