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Chicagoans react to Chauvin sentence for killing George Floyd

“I do not think it was fair. I know people right now who are serving more than 30 years for a non-violent drug charge,” Rev. Michael Pfleger said. “Now, am I happy he got 22 and a half and not 15 ... but had Derek Chauvin been a Black man and George Floyd a white man, he would’ve got 40.”

Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. walks with Rev. Michael Pfleger at the St. Sabina Peace Walk on Friday, June 25, 2021.
Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. walks with Rev. Michael Pfleger at Friday’s St. Sabina Peace Walk.
Manny Ramos/Sun-Times

Chicagoans both commended and condemned the sentence handed down Friday to Derek Chauvin, the disgraced former Minneapolis police officer convicted of killing George Floyd in May 2020.

“Today, I join people in Chicago and across the world in commending Judge Peter Cahill on his decision to sentence Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who brazenly murdered George Floyd, to 22.5 years in prison,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot tweeted Friday night.

Lightfoot said the conclusion of the case was “profoundly bittersweet” for the Floyd family and everyone else who watched the troubling video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.

“While this is part of the healing process, no amount of accountability or punishment will bring George Floyd back,” Lightfoot said.

However, Rev. Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Church felt the sentencing was another example of the disparities within the U.S. criminal justice system.

“I do not think it was fair. I know people right now who are serving more than 30 years for a non-violent drug charge,” Pfleger said Friday.

“Now, am I happy he got 22 and a half and not 15, yeah, but had Derek Chauvin been a Black man and George Floyd a white man, he would’ve got 40.”

Rev. Pfleger spoke Friday while taking part in a “peace walk” sponsored by his South Side church. Over 100 people took part, calling for and end to gun violence in the city.

Friends Damian Evans and Patrina Benford attended the march and said the sentencing was “completely inadequate.”

“Even to be discussing this is so unfair since this system is so unequal,” Evans said. “This system needs to be uprooted in order for anything to change.”

Still, Benford said, the sentence was better than nothing.

“At least he has 22 years to think about what he did and hopefully other officers will realize they are not just going to get a slap on the wrist,” Benford.

Ja’Mal Green, a community activist and former mayoral candidate, also took to Twitter to point out sentencing disparities.

“Jason Van Dyke shot Laquan McDonald 16 times and only gotta do 3 1/2 years in prison. Derek Chauvin kneeled on the neck of George Floyd and only gotta do 15,” Green said. “I’ve seen larger sentences for drugs let alone for the killing of white people or police officers. This system NOT for us!”