Photo from Pixabay.
Photo from Pixabay.

Southland leaders reacted quickly Tuesday to the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd, while law enforcement agencies remained on heightened alert in response to possible rallies or protests.

“Justice has been served! I think we can breathe a sigh of relief,” Assemblyman Mike Gipson, D-Gardena, wrote on Twitter. “This is the moment we’ve been waiting for. But we still have more work to do. This is only the beginning.”

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez issued a statement saying, “The murder of George Floyd at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve marked another moment of betrayal to communities of color. Today’s verdict is one small step forward in the never-ending fight for justice and accountability, underscoring that no one is above the law.”

L.A. Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas called the verdict a “victory for justice.”

“But despite today’s outcome, our hearts remain heavy for the loved ones of George Floyd who have lost a father, a brother, and a friend,” he said. “Though his life was senselessly cut short, Mr. Floyd’s legacy lives on through our collective work and advocacy to reimagine policing across this country. So, while today’s verdict will not bring George Floyd back, my hope is that his family will know that he has forever changed this nation for the better.”

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, cautioned that legal justice “does not bring back George Floyd and justice in one case does not erase thousands of other wrongs. We must work to make sure that this step toward justice is followed by thousands, or millions, of steps in that direction.”

A group of Southland faith leaders began gathering in Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles for a rally. The group known as Community Control Over the Police planned to rally Tuesday afternoon at Florence and Normandie.

Law enforcement agencies across the Southland have been on heightened alert this week in anticipation of possible protests or rallies following the verdict in Chauvin’s trial. Chauvin was convicted Tuesday afternoon of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, and he was immediately taken into custody.

As the verdict was being read, the Long Beach Police Department declared a “stage 2 tactical alert,” which means additional officers will be on patrol ready to respond to any calls for service. The city stressed there was no information about planned protests in Long Beach.

The city of Los Angeles closed all of its COVID-19 vaccination sites in response to the verdict being read. Anyone with appointments at those sites was being urged to return Wednesday.

Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statement saying, “The hard truth is that, if George Floyd looked like me, he’d still be alive today.”

“No conviction can repair the harm done to George Floyd and his family, but today’s verdict provides some accountability as we work to root out the racial injustice that haunts our society,” Newsom said. “We must continue the work of fighting systemic racism and excessive use of force. It’s why I signed some of the nation’s most progressive police reform legislation into law. I will continue working with community leaders across the state to hear concerns and support peaceful expression.”

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