Yesterday (Tuesday 20 April), former police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted for the murder of George Floyd.
Floyd died on a Minneapolis street last May, after Chauvin knelt on his neck for nine minutes. “I can’t breathe,” Floyd repeatedly told Chauvin in a video recording of the incident, which was shared and watched by millions on the internet.
After a three-week trial, a jury found Chauvin was guilty on three counts: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. He was placed in custody and sentencing is likely to happen in two months, which could lead to Chauvin spending decades in jail.
Police officers are rarely convicted for deaths that occur in custody in the US, which is why there was a collective anxiety that Chauvin might be acquitted. So, when the verdicts were made, crowds around America broke into cheers, celebration and relief.
It’s being seen by many as an historic moment in American history, which could mark a turning point in the fight against systemic racism. “Today, we are able to breathe again,” Floyd’s younger brother Philonise Floyd told reporters at a press conference. “Justice for George means freedom for all.”
Here’s how the rest of the nation reacted…
“Today’s verdict brings us a step closer to making equal justice under law a reality,” tweeted vice president Kamala Harris. “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.”
She added: “We are all part of George Floyd’s legacy. And now our job is to honour it – to honour him.”
President Joe Biden shared a video statement, calling this a “giant step forward in the march toward justice in America”.
Martin Luther King III asserted: “Today, justice was served for the Floyd family, but we still live in a nation clothed in injustice. True justice for Black Americans can only come through a complete revolution of values. We need an overhaul of systems deeply rooted in racism. #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd.”
“A reminder that victory would be George Floyd being alive,” shared poet and activist Amanda Gorman. “Every day Black Americans worry if they will be next is another day without justice.”
The Floyd family’s attorney, Chris Stewart, shared a video of the moment the family heard the verdicts, writing alongside it: “Pain and joy all in one. The world had to demand justice for #georgefloyd its a win for all of you and the world! Change is possible! #justiceforgeorgefloyd.”
And Michelle and Barack Obama shared a joint statement on Twitter, writing alongside it: “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.”
We’ll be keeping this page updated with reactions throughout the day.
To help support the anti-racism movement from the UK, take a look at these 17 anti-racism charities and organisations. Stylist.co.uk has also put together a guide on how we can all be better allies in the fight against racism. And you can find more information on the Black Lives Matter movement on the official website.