Boston Mayor Kim Janey and Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins spoke in starkly personal terms Tuesday about the conviction of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd.
Janey opened her remarks by noting she's the city's first Black mayor and first female mayor, as well as a grandmother, community organizer and "a Black woman who has felt the need to tread lightly in a world that criminalizes my Blackness." Rollins, the first woman of color to serve as a district attorney in Massachusetts, said she found Floyd's death and the Chauvin trial so painful it was hard to watch news coverage.
They commended the work done by Minnesota prosecutors who argued the case against Chauvin and the jury who found him guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter on Tuesday.
"The police don't get to try, convict, sentence and execute, and that is precisely what happened to George Floyd," Rollins said.
Both Rollins, who has a national reputation as a reform-minded prosecutor, and Janey, who has spent many of her first days in office talking about equity, committed to further change in Boston and Suffolk County.
"Doing the work to dismantle structural racism will take all of us," Janey said.
"As mayor I promise the city of Boston bold and courageous leadership."
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker released a statement saying the jury showed "Chauvin was not above the law." Many other politicians from around Massachusetts and New England reacted to the news as well.
Earlier in the day, Janey said her administration was working with law enforcement to ensure safety in the city as the nation awaited the jury's decision.
Janey said she was working with police in light of recent protests across the county following the police shootings of Duante Wright and Adam Toledo in Minnesota and Illinois, respectively.
The city was also working on a plan to respond to the trauma many have felt over watching news of police shootings "over and over and over again," Janey said after touring businesses in Egleston Square.
Regardless of the outcome, Janey urged Bostonians to stay engaged in the fight for racial justice.
"We certainly hope justice will be served," she said. "History has not always been on the side of justice in these cases, but we're certainly hoping the evidence will lead to justice here.
"I would certainly encourage everyone regardless of what the verdict is to stay engaged in the work," she added. "Even if justice is served in this case, it does not mean the work is over. It is important that we continue to move forward with the racial justice agenda here in Boston.
Baker told reporters before the decision was read out Tuesday that state officials had been talking with local governments about preparations and that Massachusetts was ready to assist any cities or towns that need help.
"I think everybody in the country is anxiously awaiting that decision and we are too," he said at a news conference at the state house.
Meanwhile, the Massachusetts State Police said Tuesday they were working with partner agencies on a "multi-layered, scalable plan to protect people’s safety, property, and rights of assembly and free speech."
The agency said it would "adjust operations as necessary to ensure that all citizens may exercise their Constitutionally-protected rights in a safe and secure manner, and stand ready to assist our local law enforcement partners throughout the state."
The jury of six white people and six people who are Black or multiracial in Minneapolis returned its verdict before completing a full day of deliberations -- they'd begun Monday afternoon following closing arguments in which prosecutors argued that Chauvin squeezed the life out of Floyd last May in a way that even a child knew was wrong.
The defense contended that the now-fired white officer acted reasonably and that the 46-year-old Floyd died of a heart condition and illegal drug use.
As the case drew to a close, some stores were boarded up in Minneapolis. The courthouse was ringed with concrete barriers and razor wire, and National Guard troops were on patrol. Floyd's death set off protests last spring in the city and across the U.S. that sometimes turned violent.
A largely peaceful protest in Boston ended with clashes between protesters and police that saw some shop windows smashed and a police cruiser set on fire.
"Massachusetts had one bad day all the way through all the activity last summer," Baker said Tuesday, adding that he was proud of how the state dealt with the issues raised by the deaths of Floyd and others last year.
He also noted that Massachusetts was one of the few states to pass bipartisan police reform as it reckoned with the issues.
Minneapolis has also been on edge in recent days over the deadly police shooting of a 20-year-old Black man, Daunte Wright, in a nearby suburb on April 11.
About 300 protesters marched in the streets outside the courthouse shortly after the jury got the case, lining up behind a banner reading, "Justice 4 George Floyd & all stolen lives. The world is watching."