US Jewish groups welcome guilty verdict in trial of cop who killed George Floyd

Comments by mostly liberal organizations say ruling a first step in addressing police brutality, reforms still needed to tackle systemic racism

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ), the sister organization of The Jewish Vote, march in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2016. (Courtesy Gili Getz)
Illustrative: Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ), the sister organization of The Jewish Vote, march in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2016. (Courtesy Gili Getz)

A host of mainly liberal US Jewish groups welcomed Tuesday’s guilty verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin over George Floyd’s death.

Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter for pinning Floyd to the pavement with his knee on the Black man’s neck in a case that touched off worldwide protests, violence and a furious reexamination of racism and policing in the US.

Many of the Jewish groups said Chauvin’s conviction was not enough on its own and that much reform is needed to address systemic racism in the US.

“The issue is much bigger than one traffic stop, one no-knock raid, one police shooting, one department, or one city. It is long past time for our country to tackle systemic racism, reimagine what public safety looks like, and create transformational change to ensure justice and fair treatment for all people. Black Lives Matter, and our society’s laws, practices, and institutions must reflect that,” the Anti-Defamation League said in a statement.

People react after the verdict was read in the Derek Chauvin trial on April 20, 2021, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The former police officer was on trial on second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges in the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The head of the Jewish Democratic Council of America cited Jewish values in her statement on the verdict.

“Despite today’s verdict, we know there is more work to do to fulfill the fundamental Jewish value of ‘tzedek tzedek tirdof’ – justice justice you shall pursue,” Halie Soifer said. “Like justice, Black Lives Matter is a Jewish value. Even though Derek Chauvin was rightfully found guilty, the fight to address racism and injustice in America continues.”

The chief of T’ruah, a rabbinical human rights group, also said the verdict “addresses merely a single instance of state violence.”

“As moral leaders, we strive to replace these systems of injustice with systems of righteousness. We fight for an end to state violence that primarily endangers Black Americans and other communities of color, and for the establishment of systems grounded in human rights that enable all of us to live in safety, rather than using police to protect some members of society at the expense of others,” Jill Jacobs said.

The Jewish Federations of North America tweeted that “while no guilty verdict can bring George Floyd back, we hope that today’s decision brings some measure of justice, healing & peace. We know that there is much work to do. Our resolve to address real & legitimate concerns about racial discrimination has never been stronger.”

In this image from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, center, is taken into custody as his attorney, Eric Nelson, left, looks on, after the verdicts were read at Chauvin’s trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. (Court TV via AP, Pool)

Several groups primarily focused on Israel also weighed in on the ruling.

“While this decision cannot bring back the life that was stolen, we are glad to see some measure of justice for the family of George Floyd,” J Street, the left-wing pro-Israel lobby, wrote on Twitter.

The Democratic Majority for Israel said “justice can never be fully done,” as Floyd would never again see his family and loved ones.

“But we hope today’s conviction brings them some comfort and allows them to begin healing,” the group said. “This verdict represents an important step toward addressing the grave injustices he and so many other people of color have suffered. DMFI will continue to advocate for policies that will dismantle the systemic racism that still plagues our country.”

Most Popular
read more: