CHICAGO (CBS) — Former president and longtime Chicagoan Barack Obama issued a statement Tuesday saying jurors in Minneapolis “did the right thing” in convicting fired police Officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd.

But he wrote that the Chauvin conviction was only a “step on the road to progress” and greater reforms are needed to eliminate racial bias in the American criminal justice system.

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Obama’s statement read:

“Today, a jury in Minneapolis did the right thing.

“For almost a year, George Floyd’s death under the knee of a police officer has reverberated around the world — inspiring murals and marches, sparking conversations in living rooms and new legislation. But a more basic question has always remained: would justice be done?

“In this case, at least, we have our answer. But if we’re being honest with ourselves, we know that true justice is about much more than a single verdict in a single trial.

“True justice requires that we come to terms with the fact that Black Americans are treated differently, every day. 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. And it requires us to do the sometimes thankless, often difficult, but always necessary work of making the America we know more like the America we believe in.

“While today’s verdict may have been a necessary step on the road to progress, it was far from a sufficient one. We cannot rest. We will need to follow through with the concrete reforms that will reduce and ultimately eliminate racial bias in our criminal justice system. We will need to redouble efforts to expand economic opportunity for those communities that have been too long marginalized.

“And as we continue the fight, 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.

“Michelle and I send our prayers to the Floyd family, in the hopes that they may find peace. And we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with all those who are committed to guaranteeing every American the full measure of justice that George and so many others have been denied.”

Chauvin was convicted Tuesday following nearly a year of protest, introspection, and raw emotion. Last May, he held a knee down on George Floyd’s neck for more than 9 minutes.

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He was found guilty of second-degree murder and two other charges in Floyd’s death.

The verdict was read in Hennepin County, Minnesota court just after 4 p.m. Thursday. It took the jury roughly 10 hours of deliberation to reach their verdict — about four hours Monday afternoon and evening, and another six hours Tuesday starting at 8 a.m.

Chauvin was convicted of three charges:
• Second-degree unintentional murder means causing death without intent by committing a felony.
• Second-degree manslaughter is causing death by unreasonable risk.
• Third-degree murder means causing death by an “eminently dangerous” act, showing a “depraved mind.”

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The maximum penalty on second-degree murder charges is up to 40 years in prison, and the third-degree murder charges carries a sentence of up to 25 years in prison. The maximum penalty on second-degree manslaughter is up to 10 years in prison.

CBS 2 Chicago Staff