On Tuesday evening, nearly a year after the death of George Floyd, a Minneapolis jury convicted former police officer Derek Chauvin of second- and third-degree murder and manslaughter.
Along with President Joe Biden and other national leaders, a number of Virginia state officials and Loudoun County representatives have commented on the matter, expressing hope, regret and determination regarding race relations in the United States.
Chauvin, 45, knelt on the neck of Floyd — a 46-year-old Black man at his time of death — for more than nine minutes while placing him under arrest on May 25, 2020.
"Here's somebody who showed no humanity, no dignity and no respect for a human being," Loudoun County Commonwealth's Attorney Buta Biberaj said of Chauvin Tuesday evening during a peaceful prayer event at the Loudoun County Courthouse in Leesburg.
Video of Chauvin and Floyd's encounter — which Biberaj said "still brings me to tears" — surfaced on the internet the day after it occurred.
After the video went viral, months of worldwide protests against police brutality toward minority populations ensued, as well as some violent riots, looting and vandalism.
The lawn and front steps of the Loudoun County Courthouse hosted more than 1,500 peaceful protesters last May in the wake of Floyd's death, followed by a large protest in Purcellville a couple of weeks later.
Loudoun NAACP President Michelle Thomas attended and spoke at last year's Leesburg protest. As well as at Tuesday's event, which the Loudoun NAACP hosted.
She started the evening with a prayer, asking God to "let us see justice" in Loudoun County, in the Commonwealth, in Minneapolis and "throughout the world."
"God has allowed us to see what we've never seen before," Thomas said. "He's allowed the justice system to do what they've never done before. He's allowed people to come together across this nation to beat back racism, to beat back injustice, to beat back division, to beat back unforgiveness."
Biberaj and former Leesburg Town Councilman Ron Campbell followed Thomas, both praising the outcome of the two-week trial as well as the efforts of peaceful activists over the past 11 months.
"When we come together to speak against injustice, justice prevails," Biberaj said. "We saw people in the street who saw something and did not believe that it was right, knew that it was wrong and used their voices … to be able to bring it to light."
She added, "This is going to be the start of a whole new change as to how we are treating each other and how we hold each other accountable."
In an email to the Times-Mirror, Purcellville Mayor Kwasi Fraser commended the 12-person jury "for courageously doing their duty … to enable justice to prevail in this case."
"We must learn from this heinous crime, the response of righteous rage around our country for accountability and justice, and our continuous call for equality for all," he said.
"Today history has been made and the nation has nudged closer to that goal [of] justice for all," Leesburg Mayor Kelly Burk said in a separate email.
Several officials have also lamented that, in Burk's words, "it took a black man's life at the knee of a white police officer to bring us to this point."
"My prayers are for the Floyd family knowing that this verdict will never bring George Floyd back into their arms, but that it may bring them some degree of peace and closure," Fraser said.
In a prepared statement, Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) said many people "were surprised [Chauvin] was found guilty," thus "illuminat[ing] the real problem with our criminal justice system."
"Clearly, it's past time we have a national conversation on law enforcement and policing in America," she said.
Randall added, "In addition to black and brown people being far more likely to die during a police-involved incident, the fact there are more police that take their own lives than die in the line of duty is a clear indication that policing in America is broken."
While lauding the verdict and saying the U.S. legal and criminal justice systems "worked as intended," Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman (R) said Chauvin’s conduct is largely atypical of American police and other members of law enforcement.
"Derek Chauvin's actions were violent and reprehensible … [but] do not reflect the vast majority of the excellent men and women in law enforcement who put their lives on the line every day to protect their communities," he said in an email.
Loudoun County School Board Chairwoman Brenda Sheridan (Sterling District) did not respond to the Times-Mirror's request for comment.