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NAACP: ‘We are still advocating for law enforcement who behave badly to be held accountable’

court photo
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)

The Virginia NAACP responded to Tuesday’s verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin. Chauvin was found guilty on all three charges in the murder of George Floyd.

Robert Barnette, president of the Virginia State Conference of the NAACP, said the verdict shows that law enforcement will be held accountable for their actions. He called the decision a major accomplishment for the jury. 

 “A lot of attention has been placed on law enforcement and criminal justice issues and the number of officer-involved shootings has dramatically increased,” Barnette said. “So I think the jury may have taken some of these things into account.”

The Virginia NAACP announced last week that it’s calling for an end to qualified immunity in Virginia. The policy shields law enforcement from civil lawsuits.

“We are still advocating for law enforcement who behave badly to be held accountable,” Barnette said. 

That announcement followed outrage earlier this month over the traffic stop of 2nd Army Lieutenant Caron Nazario in the town of Windsor.  

Elected officials across the state have also been reacting to the jury’s decision.

“Justice has been served,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia) moments after the jury’s announcement.

In a tweet, Virginia’s senior senator said nothing would bring Floyd back, but the country owes it to him and his family to reform the policing system, by passing measures like the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in Congress. 

Gov. Ralph Northam says the verdict an important step towards police accountability, but there is still a lot of work ahead. In a statement, Northam said he prays the decision brings comfort to Floyd’s loved ones, and, “may we honor his legacy by continuing on this march towards justice and meaningful change.” 

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney says everyone is responsible for changing and holding unjust systems accountable for harming Black Americans. 

Stoney adds that the verdict “makes it clear to everyone in America that Black lives matter.”

Sara McCloskey contributed to this report.

Whittney Evans is VPM News’ features editor.