Minneapolis, April 21 2021: After a three week long emotionally charged trial that had held the key for the nation’s racial reckoning, the crowd gathered outside the heavily guarded Minneapolis courtroom cheered as White ex-policeman Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering Black George Floyd and was found guilty on all three counts; murder in second degree, murder in third degree and manslaughter. Philonise Floyd, George’s brother embraced the prosecutors and some people wept tears of joy.
Rodney Floyd, also brother of George Floyd, addressing the systemic injustice against Black people by authorities for centuries, told press, “We needed a victory in this case, it’s very important, and we got it and hey, we might actually breathe a little bit better now.”
Meanwhile President Joe Biden called to congratulate the Floyd family and told them he was relieved.He also addressed the nation alongside, Vice President, Kamala Harris. He called this a giant step forward for America in terms of racial justice and that history will always remember this moment.
The seven-woman five-man jury that was sequestered yesterday, after closing arguments on Monday, deliberated for less than 11 hours before they made their unanimous decision. Chauvin, who had been free on bail was consequently cuffed and was taken away by a deputy as Judge Peter Cahill read the decision. He will be officially sentenced later for the serious charge of second degree murder for which he faces 40 years. Three other officers involved in the incident are also to go on trial this year.
The death of George Floyd, after police tried to subdue him following his arrest for passing a counterfeit bill, sparked a bevy of protests against racial injustice and police brutality around the US. According to the video recorded on the scene by a young girl, bystander Darnella Frazier, Chauvin, who held Floyd in handcuffed to the ground, kept a knee on his back for over 9 minutes while the latter kept gasping saying “I can’t breathe”. Frazeir later also testified for the prosecution saying Floyd was suffering and begging for his life.
Another prosecution witness, Medaria Arradondo, the Minneapolis police chief, said he respected the judicial process in the community that he was born and raised in and that there is hope for healing even though the hearts of the community are heavy with emotions.
Ahead of the verdict, National Guard Troops had been deployed in Minneapolis and other cities to stave off any potential unrest. Since the city has been tensely awaiting the outcome of the trial, there has been another officer involved shooting of a young Black man in the Minneapolis suburbs which triggered protests and riots. Daunte Wright was killed by white ex-police woman Kim Potter in what should have been a routine traffic stop.
Making a compelling closing speech, the prosecutor Steve Schleicher, talking about the video, had earlier told the jury, “This case is exactly what you thought when you saw it first, when you saw that video, you can believe your eyes, it’s exactly what you knew, it’s what you felt in your gut, it’s what you now know in your heart.” He called the incident murder from excessive use of force and misuse of authority, not policing.
One of just three Black Republicans in Congress, US Senator Tim Scott, hailed the jury’s decision and said that while the outcome of the trial gave them hope in the justice system, there was still work to be done to ensure some “bad apples” do not define all officers.
Ben Crump, the Floyd family lawyer called this landmark victory a catalyst for legislation to reform police trainings and how they dealt with minorities. He tweeted, saying, “This verdict is a turning point in history and sends a clear message on the need for accountability of law enforcement. Justice for Black America is justice for all of America!”
GUILTY! Painfully earned justice has finally arrived for George Floyd’s family. This verdict is a turning point in history and sends a clear message on the need for accountability of law enforcement. Justice for Black America is justice for all of America!
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) April 20, 2021
As we breathed a collective sigh of relief today, a community in Columbus felt the sting of another police shooting as @ColumbusPolice killed an unarmed 15yo Black girl named Makiyah Bryant. Another child lost! Another hashtag. ✊🏾🙏🏾#JusticeForMakiyahBryant https://t.co/9ssR5gfqm5
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) April 21, 2021
The first Black president of the US, Barack Obama, took to Twitter, saying, “a jury did the right thing” but “true justice requires much more.”
Today, a jury did the right thing. But true justice requires much more. Michelle and I send our prayers to the Floyd family, and we stand with all those who are committed to guaranteeing every American the full measure of justice that George and so many others have been denied. pic.twitter.com/mihZQHqACV
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) April 20, 2021
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