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Monty Reacts to George Floyd Case Verdict

By Barbara A. Preston l April 20, 2021

"A guilty verdict in the Chauvin Trial today indicates that the world is changing," says Montgomery School Board President Phyllis Bursh, the first African American to be elected to her post. "Twelve people believed that a Black life, George Floyd’s, did matter. I feel great relief not to spend the next days and weeks in pain and sorrow."

After less than a day of deliberation, jurors found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all three charges for murdering Floyd, a 48-year-old black man, during an arrest in May 2020. The video captured the world's attention, sparked protests to end racism and police brutality, and brought about significant change in Montgomery Township.

Sign in Veterans Park, Montgomery Township.

After a "Monty4Justice" rally at Veteran's Park in Montgomery Township in June; Montgomery Township residents responded by electing its first African American committee member and its first African American school board president.

"We have made a step toward justice," Bursh said. "Police were brave enough to testify against Officer Chauvin’s behavior. My hope is that more police will stand up when their colleagues are behaving improperly, stop the deadly treatment of Black people, and stop attacking peaceful protestors. We all must work to end racism, discrimination, and bias."

"I am grateful to have lived beyond Rodney King’s trial to see the verdict today," Bursh concluded.

Montgomery High School graduates at a Black Lives Matter march in Princeton.

The jury found Chauvin guilty of second-degree and third-degree murder, and manslaughter over the death of Floyd. The judge revoked bail, and ordered Chauvin to go straight to jail, pending sentencing. The former police officer was filmed kneeling on the neck of Floyd for more than nine minutes, during Floyd's arrest last May. The judge instructed the jury to remember the burden of proof is on the state. Chauvin's defense had argued that drugs and poor health caused Floyd's death

Sandra M. Donnay, Ph.D., a Montgomery resident and founder of The Racial Equity Initiative—A Think Tank Devoted to Dismantling Racism, has been working with the Montgomery Township Police Department and other organizations to improve relations with the community.

"I am pleased that Mr. Chauvin is experiencing some measure of the consequences of his behavior," she says. "Yet, it is hard for me to be happy as there are no winners here. Mr. Floyd cannot be brought back. His family is forever devastated. Mr. Chauvin is spiritually dead. We must dismantle racism in all of its forms. No one wins."

Donnay facilitated two group meetings in the last year between the Montgomery police and members of the Black community. "I was pleased by their willingness to meet with us and to engage in difficult discussions on racial issues as a whole and in Montgomery," Donnay said. " Lt. (Silvio) Bet, Police Director (Jim) Gill, and I still maintain a positive relationship and speak regularly in order to further mutual understanding of these issues from our diverse perspectives."

Montgomery Township Committee Member Shelly L. Bell said:

"Justice was found in the George Floyd case. But my heart bleeds for all the other African Americans who have lost their lives unnecessarily at the hands of the police, who are sworn to serve and protect us.

"Generations of Black families have had the difficult talk with their children about these injustices. It is my hope that this case signals a positive change when it comes to African Americans and law enforcement. The fight for Black lives continues."

"In the words Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.'"

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Montgomery Businessman and Lawyer Michael Young, managing partner of theCoderSchool Montgomery, said.

"Granting the family of George Floyd a guilty verdict is a good starting point to addressing larger systemic issues of policing and the inequitable distribution of justice. We must remain hopeful that this event will spark meaningful change in legislation, policing procedures, and the way we engage in conversation about criminal reform."

Montgomery Mayor Devra Keenan:

"The guilty verdicts today ... represent accountability and a crucial first step towards justice. Yet, such a tragic abuse of power should never have happened.

"George Floyd’s murder, along with too many other tragedies over the past year, provoked a national reckoning on race that has impacted every community, including Montgomery Township. We started many necessary conversations that have improved understanding and communication between law enforcement, our diverse communities, and our youth. We know there is still more work to be done.

As mayor, I will continue to work in partnership with the township committee, administration, and police department to strive for equity and justice for all in our community."

Catherine Gural, Montgomery Township Committee Member: "If this case does not demonstrate clearly our need for widespread criminal justice reform as well as some real self-reflection on the part of police departments in all 50 states, I don't know what does.

"As the mother of an Hispanic young man, with multiple disabilities, this is my nightmare every time he pulls out of our driveway. However, as a white woman, I need to preserve space for those who have suffered from institutional racism and racial discrimination, which is not my lived experience.

"I am not going to use this as an opportunity for sweeping political rhetoric. It's a tragedy. My heart hurts. I yield this space to those who deserve it, and have earned it."

Montgomery Deputy Mayor Marv Schuldiner:

George Floyd's "murder is a stain on this country. This case further exposed the horrible treatment of Black Americans at the hands of some police officers.

"While I am happy that Chauvin will be held accountable for his atrocious conduct, this verdict will not bring back George Floyd nor lessen the pain of his family, his friends, and people in the Black community. But it is a step in the right direction for our country in achieving our aspiration of equality and dignified treatment for all. "These guilty verdicts are not the end but the beginning. We need to continue to work towards the day when the Black members of our community do not fear interactions with the police and when Black parents do not have to have "the talk" with their children. Black lives matter. "As an elected official and a father, I pledge to continue to work towards this ideal. We will get there if we all work together. Please join me."

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