In Wake Of Chauvin Verdict, Colorado’s Congressional Democrats Call For Action On Police Reform

Caitlyn Kim/CPR News
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus speak to the media after the Derek Chauvin verdict is released, Tuesday April 20, 2021.

Reaction from Colorado’s Congressional Democrats to the Chauvin verdict was swift. Rep. Joe Neguse joined members of the Congressional Black Caucus and other House leaders for remarks outside the U.S. Capitol about 15 minutes after the verdict was read.

Neguse and other Democrats said “justice was served” by the jury’s findings. The Lafayette Democrat added that “it’s important now for the Congress to turn to critical work of legislating” with regards to police reform bills, such as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

The Act passed the House in early March with all of Colorado’s Democratic members voting yes and Republicans voting no.

In a statement, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet called on the Senate to now take up and pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. 

“No single verdict can demolish the structural racism that still plagues our country. But today, the jury reached the right conclusion. Tomorrow, we have to continue the work to ensure that every American, no matter their race, can live in safety with equal protection under the law,” Bennet said.

Democratic Sen. John Hickenlooper echoed the call for reform. The former governor said in a statement, “Black Americans deserve a world in which their lives aren’t threatened by the very people sworn to protect them. We must reform a broken system that continues to allow these tragedies to happen.”

While Floyd’s death sparked major protests in Colorado last summer, reformers have also focused attention on the case of Elijah McClain, who died after being stopped by Aurora police in 2019.

In his response to Tuesday’s verdict, Rep. Jason Crow, who represents the district where McClain lived, referenced his death and the communities that hurt for him and other black men and women whose lives were cut short. 

“This pain is bigger than one trial in Minneapolis can heal. We must tackle the systemic racism that is embedded in our criminal justice system, our government, and every facet of our society head-on,” Crow said.

Democratic Reps. Diana DeGette and Ed Perlmutter also issued statements saying the right verdict had been reached, but that more work needs to be done.

Thus far, Colorado’s Congressional Republicans were silent on the trial verdict. All three did weigh in on Twitter earlier on Tuesday to criticize California Dem. Rep. Maxine Waters’ comments that protesters should “get more confrontational” if the jury did not find Chauvin guilty, and to complain that House Democrats had blocked Republican efforts to censure her.

“If Maxine Waters were a member of the GOP, her outrageous comments would be nonstop fodder for the liberal media, and she would have already been stripped of her committee assignments by Nancy Pelosi. This is hypocrisy at its finest,” tweeted Rep. Doug Lamborn.