(Updated at 9:50 a.m. on 4/21/2021) Local officials and organizations expressed relief at the guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial for the murder of George Floyd, while also reiterating a need to address inequities and discrimination within the criminal justice system.
Yesterday (April 20), Minneapolis, Minn., police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murder and manslaughter for killing George Floyd on May 25, 2020 by kneeling on his neck. Captured on video, Floyd’s murder spurred protests against police brutality around the world, including in Fairfax County.
Within minutes of the verdict, the Fairfax County Police Department and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay shared their separate statements together.
Notably, FCPD’s statement does not specifically mention the trial or the guilty verdict, but does speak to their ongoing reform efforts and repairing trust in the community.
Del. Ibraheem Samirah, who represents the 86th District, including the Town of Herndon, also released a comment via social media, saying that it shouldn’t have taken “a massive media focus to ensure justice is served for Black and Brown people.”
Justice has been served for George Floyd. But do not forget the multitude of other lives that have been lost to police violence that didn't have the same outcome. It shouldn't take massive media focus to ensure that justice is served for Black and Brown people. #BlackLivesMatter
— Del. Ibraheem Samirah (@IbraheemSamirah) April 20, 2021
The Fairfax County chapter of the NAACP released a statement earlier in the day calling for peace no matter the verdict.
After the guilty verdict were announced, the organization re-posted NAACP national’s message on Facebook, which read:
“Justice has prevailed in the case against #GeorgeFloyds killer #DerekChauvin, but the work is not done! We must keep fighting to end qualified immunity, and we must get #PoliceReformNOW.”
Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand also provided a statement saying that students and staff are “experiencing a range of emotions” about the verdict and that the school system is constantly working to create an environment where racism and hate are not tolerated.
“There is no justice in the loss of loved one,” he said.
Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano tweeted that the verdict was “a first step toward justice and accountability,” but he also called Chauvin’s trial “a dramatic reminder of the pain countless Black Americans experience as a result of a justice system that too often devalues their lives.”
Those of us who wield power in this system have a responsibility to learn from & be responsive to this pain. In Fairfax County, I will continue to serve as the independent check on the justice system the community deserves & hold police who abuse their power accountable. 2/2
— Steve Descano (@SteveDescano) April 20, 2021
Several of Fairfax County’s Congressional representatives said via social media that they agreed with the verdict.
Rep. Jennifer Wexton called it “a good day for justice.” Rep. Gerry Connolly wrote that the verdict was “just,” adding that “far too many Black lives have been cut short” and “we owe them real, structural change.”
“The jury confirms what we saw: Derek Chauvin is guilty of murdering George Floyd,” Rep. Don Beyer said on Twitter. “I’m thinking about George Floyd, his family and friends, who have been through such much.”
Wexton and Sen. Mark Warner urged their colleagues in Congress to support the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would require police to wear body cameras, establish a national registry for records of police misconduct, and limit qualified immunity as a defense in civil lawsuits against law enforcement officers, among other reforms.
Reston Now reached out to the Fairfax County Police Association for comment but has yet to hear back as of publication.
Photo by Nick Papetti
Lawmakers discussed bringing back late-night hours and Metro’s safety record with Metro officials at a congressional oversight hearing on the transit agency on Tuesday.
An ethics investigation into former Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority board chair Jack Evans was the focus of most of the hearing, which was led by Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations.
Connolly and other lawmakers urged Metro’s leadership to continue to combat what Connolly said was a “culture of mediocrity” concerning safety and efficiency in the system.
Additionally, Metro assumes the authority of phase two of the Silver Line extension project, a number of safety-related issues must be resolved.
“We cannot allow shoddy construction work by cost-cutting contractors to saddle Metro and its ridership with long-term costly maintenance,” Connolly said.
So far, it’s unclear how next year’s opening of phase two of the Silver Line into Loudoun County will impact fares. Currently, Metro’s distance-based fares are capped at $6 at rush hour and at $3.85 at all other times.
Metro’s General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said WMATA is considering the possibility of fare increases as part of its budget development process. Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) said she hopes Metro will maintain affordability for her constituents in Reston, Tysons and surrounding a real.
Metro is focusing on promoting the use of SmarTrip cards — a reloadable card used to pay Metrorail and local bus system fares — in order to boost ridership.
“Our biggest focus is getting people to use the SmarTrip cards and providing discounts for that,” Wiedefeld said. “That’s really the best way to use the system for us operationally and efficiency-wise,” he said.
At the meeting, officials also hinted at the possibility of bringing back late-night hours that Metro cut several years ago.
A recording of the meeting, which also touched on other issues like cybersecurity, Metro’s overall funding goals, is available online.
Photo via YouTube