George Floyd mural

Members of the Illinois Senate Black Caucus reacted to the news that Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison for the murder of George Floyd with a mixture of hope and dismay. While most were pleased that the justice system held him accountable for Floyd’s murder, some thought the sentence needed to be longer.

“No sentence would bring Mr. George Floyd back to his family, but today’s sentence does not go far enough toward holding Derek Chauvin responsible for the trust he’s broken,” said State Senator Elgie Sims (D-Chicago), sponsor of the SAFE-T Act. “This tragedy has not only affected the Floyd family, but has affected all of us. And, that’s why we should not be distracted from the fact that there is still more work to do to ensure our system of justice is fair and equitable for everyone.”

Senator Adriane Johnson (D-Buffalo Grove), thought the substantial sentence was a positive sign for members of the Black community.

“As we work toward restoring the soul of our nation, we must reconcile the two justice systems in this country: The system that exists for white Americans, and the system that exists for people of color,” Johnson said. “Derek Chauvin's sentencing represents a critical moment in the centuries-long quest toward equality – it shows that everyone, no matter who they are, must be held accountable for their actions.”

Senator Mike Simmons (D-Chicago) also emphasized that more work is needed.

“One police officer facing accountability for murdering an unarmed Black man does not erase countless similar tragedies that have occurred and continue to happen with numbing frequency,” Simmons said. “It’s time for active allyship from those who hold power and privilege to agitate for systemic changes right now that bring integrity to our systems that regularly steal Black lives away from us.”

Regardless of their opinions about the sentence, the members of the caucus expressed a commitment to ensuring that criminal justice reform continues in Illinois.