CHICAGO (CBS) — U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) on Tuesday said the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd “is an important first acknowledgment of illegal police conduct,” but the senior congressman from Illinois said “We still have a long way to go to ensure that every American has a guaranteed right to equal justice.”

“Today’s verdict — guilty on all three counts — is an important first acknowledgment of illegal police conduct.  It holds one unlawful policeman accountable for murder.  However, police accountability is not synonymous with justice.

“We still have a long way to go to ensure that every American has a guaranteed right to equal justice under the law — if America is indeed a nation built on equal justice under the law.

“Bottom feeding to populate our police forces in this nation must come to a screeching halt. Our police forces must be highly professional, highly educated, highly trained, and highly paid personnel who adhere to the highest standards of public safety and public protection.”

Several other members of the Illinois congressional delegation also issued statements or posted about the verdict on Twitter.

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U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said the guilty verdict “gives me hope that we can strive for a system of justice in our nation that is applied equally to all.”

“The image of Derek Chauvin staring straight into the camera as George Floyd died under his knee haunts me to this day.  The injustice of his killing is undeniable.  And so is the fact that systemic racism continues to plague America.

“The verdict of this jury gives me hope that we can strive for a system of justice in our nation that is applied equally to all.

“As Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I have the forum and the means to help move our nation nearer to that goal.  To that end, the Committee will hold a hearing next month on police reform.

“I know today’s ruling provides only a small measure of comfort to the Floyd family.  His loss will be forever felt.  We will honor George Floyd’s memory by continuing the fight for racial justice.”

U.S. Rep. Sean Casten (D-IL) issued the following statement:

“For Americans who watched for the 9 minutes and 29 seconds as George Floyd was murdered, this trial wasn’t so much a question of guilt as it was a test of the American justice system. Today, our justice system prevailed, but in so many instances, it continues to fail Black and brown Americans.

“While I hope that today’s verdict paves the way for increased accountability for police brutality, it is also my hope that it doesn’t dissuade us from reckoning with the reality facing Black and Brown Americans or the long way we have left to go. Massive disparities in policing and incarceration, health care, housing, access to clean air and drinking water, and voting rights continue today and every day.

“In the wise words of John Lewis, ‘A democracy cannot thrive where power remains unchecked and justice is reserved for a select few. Ignoring these cries and failing to respond to this movement is simply not an option — for peace cannot exist where justice is not served.’”

https://twitter.com/ChuyForCongress/status/1384617934635651076

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.

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

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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.”

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.

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CBS 2 Chicago Staff