A jury in Minneapolis has convicted former police officer Derek Chauvin on three counts for murdering George Floyd by kneeling on his neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds last year. The jury reached its decision after 10 hours of deliberation. Derek Chauvin will be sentenced in two months. He faces up to 40 years in prison for the most serious charge, second-degree murder. He is the first white police officer in Minnesota to ever be convicted of killing a Black man. We feature reactions from people gathered outside the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, comments from George Floyd’s brother and nephew, as well as President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
AMY GOODMAN: A jury in Minneapolis has convicted former police officer Derek Chauvin on all three counts for murdering George Floyd by kneeling on his neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds last May. Chauvin is the first white police officer in Minnesota to ever be convicted of killing a Black person. The jury reached its decision after 10 hours of deliberation. Just after 5 p.m. Eastern time, Judge Peter Cahill read the jury’s decision.
JUDGE PETER CAHILL: “We, the jury in the above-entitled matter, as to count one, unintentional second-degree murder while committing a felony, find the defendant guilty. … We, the jury in the above-entitled matter, as to count two, third-degree murder perpetrating an eminently dangerous act, find the defendant guilty. … We, the jury in the above-entitled matter, as to count three, second-degree manslaughter, culpable negligence creating an unreasonable risk, find the defendant guilty.”
AMY GOODMAN: Moments later, Derek Chauvin was handcuffed and taken into custody. He’ll be sentenced in two months. He faces up to 40 years in prison for the most serious charge, second-degree murder.
Outside the Minneapolis Courthouse, crowds erupted in cheers when the verdicts were announced.
CROWD: Guilty! Guilty!
AMY GOODMAN: Residents of Minneapolis described feeling relieved by the jury’s decision to convict Derek Chauvin.
SEMHAR SOLOMON: With the verdict today, I feel like a weight is lifted off my shoulders. But I know that the work’s not done. I know that there’s a lot of work to do, but I think, for today, like, I — like, Black people have their pride. Black people have their liberation. And I think today is just a day to celebrate. But tomorrow is another day to work.
AMY GOODMAN: George Floyd’s younger brother Philonise addressed reporters. He invoked the name of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old Chicago boy who was lynched in 1955 in Mississippi.
PHILONISE FLOYD: He was the first George Floyd. But today, you have the cameras all around the world to see and show what happened to my brother. It was a motion picture, the world seeing his life being extinguished. And I could do nothing but watch. … We have to protest, because it seems like this is a never-ending cycle. Reverend Al always told me we’ve got to keep fighting. I’m going to put up a fight every day, because I’m not just fighting for George anymore, I’m fighting for everybody around this world. I get calls. I get DMs, people from Brazil, from Ghana, from Germany, everybody, London, Italy. They’re all saying the same thing: We won’t be able to breathe until you are able to breathe. Today, we are able to breathe again.
AMY GOODMAN: George Floyd’s nephew Brandon Williams also spoke and called for reforms to policing in the United States.
BRANDON WILLIAMS: So, today is a pivotal moment for America. It’s something this country has needed for a long time now. And hopefully today is the start of that. When I say a pivotal moment, we need change in this broken system. It was built to oppress us. … We need police reform bad. These guys are able to wear a badge and go out in the field, which means that they’re qualified and trained to do their job at a high level. But when you shoot and kill a man that’s running away from you, that doesn’t pose a threat, either you’re not qualified and undertrained or it’s a choice and you want to kill Black men and women. It’s either one or the other. And I think today Keith Ellison and his team proved that just because you are the law, you’re not above the law. We need each and every officer to be held accountable. And until then, it’s still scary to be a Black man or woman in America encountering police.
AMY GOODMAN: The Reverend Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton stood behind the family members as they spoke. Reverend Al Sharpton of the National Action Network spoke alongside the Floyd family.
REV. AL SHARPTON: We don’t find pleasure in this. We don’t celebrate a man going to jail. We would have rather George be alive. But we celebrate that we — because young people, white and Black, some castigated, many that are here tonight, marched and kept marching and kept going, many of them looked down on but they kept marching and wouldn’t let this die. And this is an assurance to them that if we don’t give up, that we can win some rounds. But the war and the fight is not over. Just two days from now, we’re going to have to deal with the funeral of Daunte Wright, in the same county, the same area. We still have cases to fight. But this gives us the energy to fight on. And we are determined that we’re going to fight until we make federal law. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act must be law.
AMY GOODMAN: Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison was in charge of the prosecution. He also referenced the recent police killing of Daunte Wright in nearby Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.
ATTORNEY GENERAL KEITH ELLISON: We have seen Rodney King, Abner Louima, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Laquan McDonald, Stephon Clark, Atatiana Jefferson, Anton Black, Breonna Taylor, and now Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo. This has to end. We need true justice. That’s not one case. That is a social transformation that says that nobody is beneath the law and no one is above it. This verdict reminds us that we must make enduring, systemic, societal change.
AMY GOODMAN: Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is the first African American elected to statewide office in Minnesota and the first Muslim elected to statewide office anywhere in the United States. President Biden addressed the nation Tuesday and condemned systemic racism.
PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: It was a murder in the full light of day, and it ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see the systemic racism the vice president just referred to, the systemic racism that’s a stain on our nation’s soul, the knee on the neck of justice for Black Americans, profound fear and trauma, the pain, the exhaustion, that Black and Brown Americans experience every single day. The murder of George Floyd launched a summer a protest we hadn’t seen since the civil rights era in the ’60s, protests that unified people of every race and generation in peace and with purpose to say, “Enough. Enough. Enough of this senseless killings.”
AMY GOODMAN: Kamala Harris, the nation’s first African American vice president, spoke just before President Biden.
VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS: Today we feel a sigh of relief. Still, it cannot take away the pain. A measure of justice isn’t the same as equal justice. This verdict brings us a step closer. And the fact is, we still have work to do. We still must reform the system.
AMY GOODMAN: When we come back, we’ll spend the rest of the hour looking at the Chauvin verdict, and we’ll speak with Kandace Montgomery of Black Visions Collective in Minnesota and Harvard professor Khalil Gibran Muhammad. Stay with us.