‘We got the verdict we wanted’: George Floyd’s family reacts after conviction of Derek Chauvin


Feelings of vindication and pledges to continue fighting for justice poured in on Tuesday after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter for pinning George Floyd to the pavement with his knee on the Black man’s neck until he died last May.

Outside the Minneapolis courthouse, a crowd of several hundred people erupted in cheers when the verdict was announced. Chants of “George Floyd” and “All three counts” broke out.

“We got the verdict we wanted,” Terrence Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, said at a news conference Tuesday evening.

“I’m going to miss him, but now I know he’s in history.”

Philonise Floyd, another of Floyd’s siblings, pledged to continue fighting against racial injustice.

“I’m not just fighting for George anymore,” he said. “I’m fighting for everybody around this world.”

WATCH | Terrence Floyd remembers his brother:

Terrence Floyd reacts after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter in his brother George Floyd’s death. 1:17

He said in the close to 11 months since George’s death, he’s heard from people around the world telling him, “We won’t be able to breathe until you’re able to breathe.”

“Today, we are able to breathe again,” Philonise said.

Chauvin was found guilty on all three charges: second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

“We need to use this verdict as an inflection point,” Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said shortly after the verdict was read in court.

WATCH | Philonise Floyd vows to continue fight:

Philonise Floyd pledged to continue fighting against racial injustice shortly after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter in his brother’s death. 1:34

At a news conference, Ellison read off the names of others killed in encounters with police. “This has to end. We need true justice. That’s not one case. That’s social transformation that says no one is beneath the law and no one is above it,” he said.

Judge Peter Cahill also revoked Chauvin’s bail, and he was taken out of the courtroom in handcuffs and placed in the custody of the Hennepin County Sheriff.

U.S. President Joe Biden said Tuesday’s conviction “can be a giant step forward” for the country in the fight against systemic racism — but he declared that “it’s not enough.”

Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris called on Congress to act swiftly to address policing reform, including by approving a bill named for Floyd. Beyond that, the president said, the entire country must confront hatred to “change hearts and minds as well as laws and policies.”

Harris, the first Black woman to serve as vice-president, said racism was keeping the country from fulfilling its founding promise of “liberty and justice for all.”

WATCH | Former NAACP president reacts:

Harvard Kennedy School professor and former NAACP president Cornell Brooks tells Power & Politics the focus must now shift on passing legislation to end police brutality. 6:37

“It is not just a Black America problem or a people of colour problem. It is a problem for every American,” she said. “It is holding our nation back from reaching our full potential.”

“A measure of justice isn’t the same as equal justice,” she said.

‘We still have work to do’

“Today, history was made,” Benjamin Crump, an attorney who represents Floyd’s family, said in a video posted to Twitter shortly after the verdict was read. “Let us all rejoice for this moment but know that we still have work to do.”

Crump also posted video of Biden and Harris calling Floyd’s family after the verdict. Earlier on Tuesday, Biden said he was “praying the verdict is the right verdict” and that he previously spoke to the family on Monday.

“Nothing is going to make it all better, but at least now there is some justice,” Biden could be heard saying in the video. “We’re going to get a lot more done.”

At George Floyd Square in Minneapolis, the intersection where Floyd was killed last May 25 and which is now named after him, people screamed, applauded and wept. The site has since become a rallying point for racial justice protests.

“Anything else would have been uncivilized. The world would have exploded, not just Minnesota,” Joe Nixon told CBC’s Mark Gollom.

“The whole world was watching. We got justice for George Floyd. We are looking to get justice for many more.”

People in George Floyd Square in Minneapolis hold signs calling for justice for Floyd and Daunte Wright, who were killed in separate encounters with police. On Tuesday, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death. (Carly Thomas/CBC)

Asked why he came down to the courthouse for the verdict, Nixon said, “Because I’m a Black man and that could have been me.”

P.J. Hill, vice-president of the Minneapolis NAACP, said he felt liberated by the verdict. “What we witnessed was a slow nine-minute murder of a man,” he said. 

“America said enough is enough. This city said enough is enough. So it’s a watershed moment for us.”

The jury “did the right thing,” according to former U.S. president Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama. “But if we’re being honest with ourselves, we know that true justice is about much more than a single verdict in a single trial.

“We cannot rest. We will need to follow through with the concrete reforms that will reduce and ultimately eliminate racial bias in our criminal justice system,” they said in a statement. 

The WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx and the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves posted matching statements Tuesday evening.

They said they were “hopeful that today’s decision will serve as a step forward, but it does not ease the physical and emotional pain that continues in an environment where systemic racism exists.”

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