Church leaders welcome George Floyd verdict

(Photo: Unsplash/Munshots)

The guilty verdict against police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd sends an "unmistakable message" that no one should be "slaughtered on a public sidewalk", Bishop TD Jakes has said. 

The jury found Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after deliberating over two days.

Welcoming the verdict, Jakes, pastor of The Potter's House megachurch in Dallas, Texas, said, "The jury sent an unmistakable message today that George Floyd's death was unnecessary and criminal, that every individual accused or suspected of a crime has a right to his day in court and should not be slaughtered on a public sidewalk and that a nation that purports to be a beacon of law, justice and equality is better than what we saw in that video.⁣"

However, he said more needed to be done to stop police brutality against black people. 

"⁣While we are delighted by the jury's verdict, we are mindful that there's still a lot of work ahead of us," he said.

"Our criminal justice system remains deeply flawed. Black people disproportionately remain victims of police brutality and are more likely to be pulled over or cited for negligible or phantom traffic violations.

"Let us not relent in our efforts to press our local, state and federal elected officials for police reform, particularly as it relates to qualified immunity, bias training, de-escalation training and uniform hiring standards.⁣" 

⁣He added, "My prayer is that this will ignite a safer society where justice is equally allocated to absolutely everyone irrespective of socio-economics, race, religion or gender. Thank you to the many officers who do not stoop to such atrocities and honestly work toward protecting us every day." 

Civil rights leader the Rev Al Sharpton said on MSNBC that he "broke down in tears" at the verdict, before adding that "the war's not over."

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said he was praying for Floyd's family and friends.

"Justice for George Floyd was essential. Praying for his family and friends today, and all who waited with them. Praying too for all who live with the trauma of racist violence and oppression, endured over many generations, and all who continue to wait and struggle for justice," he said on Twitter. 

Archbishop of St Paul and Minneapolis Bernard A Hebda said the guilty verdict was a "sobering moment for our community."

"The decision by a jury of peers punctuates the grief that has gripped the Twin Cities in these last months and underscores the soul-searching that has taken place in homes, parishes, and workplaces across the country as we together confront the chasm that exists between the brokenness of our world and the harmony and fraternity that our Creator intends for all his children," he said. 

"We hold up once again the image of the Crucified Christ, whose resurrection gives witness to the healing power of forgiveness, compassion, reconciliation, and peace.

"It is our shared brotherhood with Jesus that calls us to a deeper respect for all human life. We ask him to bring healing into our communities, comfort to the family of George Floyd and all who mourn, and satisfaction to those who thirst for justice.

"May the many reminders of the Lord's loving closeness even in challenging times inspire us to treat each other with unfailing respect, to work non-violently for the common good and to be instruments of reconciliation."

Rev Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), said it "demonstrated yet again how far we have to go on our long march toward justice."

"The wounds of our past continue to bleed into our present reality and the tensions in American life — revealed by this terrible tragedy — have remind us that there will probably be another George Floyd and another Derek Chauvin," he said.

"The remedy - politically and judicially speaking - is the blind eye of justice guiding our legislators and judges, but the remedy for the soul of America is empathy, understanding and love of one's neighbor whatever the color of their skin.

"It begins with America's Judeo-Christian conviction that every single human being is made in the image of God. We will only reach our destination on this long march if we reach it together.

"I pray that the God of all mankind, His son Jesus the Prince of Peace and the comforting Spirit of the Holy Ghost will guide our nation - including its Republicans and Democrats - toward the ultimate realization of the dream of Dr. King.

"I pray for the ultimate solution, which is to raise up a new generation that doesn't carry with them the pain, grievance and tragedy of the past through constant reminders in our present. May He who made our world and blessed our United States with freedom, help us always repair our world and our country in his image."