After two weeks of jury selection and a 28-day trial, Chauvin’s killing of George Floyd is met with a unanimous decision of guilty.
Former Minnesota officer, Derek Chauvin now awaits sentencing after his trial ended with a guilty verdict on all three counts of murder and manslaughter for killing Minneapolis resident, George Floyd. Found guilty for second-degree and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, with the second-degree murder count carrying up to 40 years in jail.
“I would not call today’s verdict justice, however, because justice implies true restoration. But it is accountability, which is the first step towards justice,” said Keith Ellison, the Minnesota attorney-general who led the prosecution.
The trial started with jury selection in early March, followed by the court proceedings then a ten-hour jury deliberation. After the judge announced the verdict, it was met with cheers outside of Minnesota’s court house by Floyd supporters.
For many across the country, a collective sigh of relief followed the verdict. Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother said that he could finally “get some sleep” after spending many nights pacing.
Even President Joe Biden spoke after the verdict. “This can be a giant step forward in the march toward justice in America,” he tweeted. In a brief talk, the POTUS said that the Floyd family showed “a remarkable family of extraordinary courage.”
“Today’s verdict brings us a step closer to making equal justice under law a reality. But the verdict will not heal pain that has existed for generations. It will not take away the pain felt by the Floyd family. That’s why we must recommit to fight for equal justice.”
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo issued a statement on behalf of the local law enforcement:
“This past year has been difficult and challenging yet they (the police) have continued to show up and serve our community with the respect and dignity they deserve,” Arradondo said. “We recognize that our community is hurting, and hearts are heavy with many emotions. However, I have hope.”
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Leading up to the verdict of Chauvin’s high-profile, many in the country worried about the outcome. Municipalities and businesses prepared emergency plans just in case the decision resulted in a public response of demonstrations.
Chauvin was on trial for kneeling on the neck of George Floyd for 9 minutes and 29 seconds, after a local store called the police for Floyd attempting to use a counterfeit $20 bill to purchase cigarettes. Chauvin and other officers confronted Floyd which ended up in them handcuffing him and at some point a physical exchange ensued that led to Chauvin restraining Floyd by placing pressure on his neck.
Several onlookers pleaded for Chauvin to stop and three other officers in the area—J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao. The other officers either assisted in restraining Floyd or prevented bystanders from interceding as Chauvin knelt of 46-year-old Floyd.
An onlooker, 17-year-old Darnella Frazier, videoed the incident, of which the recording went viral. The incident occurred on May 25, 2020.
In the middle of a global shutdown due to the COVID-19, the video quickly traveled through social media and digital platforms within days of the killing. Protestors swarmed Minneapolis with months of demonstrations. Other rallies throughout the US called for a gutting of the criminal justice system by reallocating funds given to law enforcement to other areas that would build communities devastated by years of systematic disenfranchisement.
Eventually, in other parts of the world, protests followed pointing to the inhumane treatment of Black people at the hands of the police, and the overarching anti-Black sentiment existing in the criminal justice system, and other institutions. Not only was the US cited for its gross inequities and mistreatment, but Black residents in other countries began to expose the hostilities they faced.
The global reckoning sent shock waves, but the question of Chauvin being held accountable, as well as, his fellow officers, remained uncertain. With Chauvin now awaiting sentencing, many warn that the celebration might be too early.
“It’s a relief, but the celebration is premature,” said Civil Rights era activist, Jesse Jackson to CNN’s Sara Sidner. “We still have a lot of work to do. This is a first down, not a touchdown.”
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