by Holly Matkin and Sandy Malone
Nashville, TN – A statement released by the National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) in the wake of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin’s murder conviction is being criticized among many in the organization’s membership.
A jury on Tuesday found Chauvin, 45, guilty of second-degree manslaughter, third-degree murder, and second-degree murder in the May 25, 2020 death of 46-year-old George Floyd.
Chauvin’s attorneys are expected to appeal the verdict quickly and argue, among other things, that the environment surrounding the trial made it impossible to have a fair, impartial, unprejudiced jury in Hennepin County because they had not been sequestered during the very public trial.
But according to FOP President Patrick Yoes, the justice system “worked as it should,” with regards to Chauvin’s case.
“The verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin has been reached,” Yoes wrote in a statement released on behalf of the FOP on Tuesday night. “Our system of justice has worked as it should, with the prosecutors and defense presenting their evidence to the jury, which then deliberated and delivered a verdict.”
“The trial was fair and due process was served,” he added.
Yoes’ stance on the matter was met with significant pushback from many of the FOP’s 356,000-plus members.
“Nothing screams ‘fair trial’ like the President publicly pushing for a conviction,” one person commented, likely referring to President Joe Biden’s announcement on Tuesday that he had contacted Floyd’s family the day prior to offer his support.
President Biden made the comments from the White House during a meeting with the Hispanic Caucus on Tuesday as the jury in Minneapolis entered its second day of deliberations.
“I can only imagine the pressure and anxiety they are feeling, and so I waited until the jury is sequestered and I called,” the President said.
He claimed he wasn’t going to mention it publicly because it was a private conversation with “a good family” who was “calling for peace and tranquility no matter what that verdict is.”
“I’m praying the verdict is the right verdict, which is, I think it’s overwhelming, in my view. I wouldn’t say that unless the jury is sequestered,” President Biden added.
Joe Biden on the Chauvin trial: "I'm praying the verdict is the right verdict, which I think is overwhelming in my view."pic.twitter.com/aJDQlZGHO4
— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) April 20, 2021
Yoes’ statement was countered by a staggering number of people who scoffed at the assertion that the trial had been fair.
“There was absolutely nothing fair about this trail. Nothing! I’m stunned by this statement,” one person wrote.
“Wow, FOP… Did you not listen to the Judge go off on Maxine [Waters]? How on earth did he have a fair trial?” another commenter asked.
“Since when has jury intimidation equaled a fair trial?” yet another post read.
Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill said after the jury left the courtroom on April 19 that calls for a “guilty, guilty, guilty” verdict by lawmakers could result in “the whole trial being overturned.”
Cahill was referring to remarks made by U.S. Representative Maxine Waters (D-California) over the weekend.
“But I’m very hopeful,” Waters told the assembled crowd of protesters. “And I hope that we’re going to get a verdict that will say guilty guilty guilty. And if we don’t, we cannot go away.”
She told reporters that a manslaughter verdict from the jury wouldn’t be sufficient.
“Oh no, not manslaughter,” Waters insisted. “This is guilty for murder. I don’t know whether it’s in the first degree but as far as I’m concerned, it’s first-degree murder.”
“We gotta stay on the streets and we’ve gotta get more active,” Waters urged the protesters. “We’ve gotta get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.”
The congresswoman has been accused of inciting a riot with her remarks but numerous Republican lawmakers, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) defended her colleague and said she owed no apology, according to The Hill.
A video of Waters’ call to action the night before closing arguments began in Chauvin’s trial for the murder of Floyd quickly went viral.
Maxine Waters is marching in Brooklyn Center tonight and told people to take to the streets if Chauvin is acquitted pic.twitter.com/RemfvCCLAn
— Jack Posobiec (@JackPosobiec) April 18, 2021
After the jury left the courtroom to begin deliberations on April 19, Chauvin’s defense attorney, Eric Nelson, argued that Waters’ comments could have prejudiced the jury and therefore merited a mistrial.
“We have U.S. representatives threatening acts of violence in relation to this specific case. It’s mind-boggling to me judge,” Nelson told the judge.
“Well, I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned,” the judge said.
But then he denied the defense attorney’s motion for a mistrial and said “a congresswoman’s opinion doesn’t really matter a whole lot.”
“This goes back to what I’ve been saying since the beginning,” Cahill told the attorneys. “I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch and our function.”
“I think if they want to give their opinions, they should do so… in a manner that is consistent with their oath to the Constitution and to respect a co-equal branch of government. Their failure to do so is abhorrent,” the judge ranted, showing the most emotion he has ever displayed during the trial.
But Cahill said he didn’t feel the jury had been prejudiced by Waters’ remarks because he had instructed them not to read or watch the news.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey appeared to jump on Waters’ bandwagon just moments after the judge made his remarks about politicians keeping their opinions to themselves.
“Regardless of the outcome of this trial, regardless of the decision made by the jury, there is one true reality – which is that George Floyd was killed at the hands of police,” Frey told reporters at a press conference on Monday evening.
Jacob Frey, the Mayor of Minneapolis, couldn’t even wait 10 minutes to do what Judge Cahill just asked elected officials not to do! Another appeal gift! Amazing. pic.twitter.com/QrTUbWpl1x
— Starscream CIA-Simulation Warlord 🇺🇸🦈🇺🇸 (@zerosum24) April 19, 2021
Many comments on Yoes’ statement on Tuesday were from FOP members who said they intend to withdraw their support from the organization.
“Yup, just lost a member. Time to defund them and find an organization that supports its members,” one post read.
“Not sure how you can say this was a fair trial,” another person added. “Not sure I want the FOP representing me anymore…”
Others declared the outcome of the trial was the end result of political ploys and leftist threats.
“This was put up on the National stage as a movement for racial equality and reform and with the support of the politicians, press and activists,” another person said. “Officer Chauvin ended up as their sacrificial lamb.”