Former police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of the murder of George Floyd on Tuesday. There were celebrations in the streets of Minneapolis after Chauvin was convicted of all three charges against him; second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.
Chauvin, who was a police officer for 19 years, knelt on Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes. The killing was captured on video by then 17 year-old Darnella Frazier, who gave an emotional testimony in the trial. “It’s been nights I stayed up apologising and apologising to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life,” Frazier said. However, she added, “it’s not what I should have done, it’s what he should have done,” referring to Chauvin.
Sentencing will take place in eight weeks’ time, where Chauvin faces up to 40 years in prison for second-degree murder, up to 25 years for third-degree murder, and up to 10 years for second-degree manslaughter.
Many, including prominent LGBTQ+ activists, have welcomed the verdict as a step in the right direction, while also pointing out how far is left to go in the fight for racial justice. Just earlier this month, 20 year-old Black man Daunte Wright was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer. Furthermore, police in Columbus, Ohio shot and killed a Black teenage girl shortly before Chauvin’s verdict was announced on Tuesday.
Vice President of the Minneapolis City Council and Black transgender woman Andrea Jenkins addressed the crowd gathered at George Floyd Square after the verdicts were released. “The tragic death of Daunte Wright is still top of people’s minds, and the trial of the other three officers are coming up,” she said, according to The Advocate, “but conviction on all counts against Derek Chauvin is, first and foremost, I think a victory that gives hope for our community.”
Today our city, our nation took a step towards justice, a step towards accountability, a step towards equity. It continues to give us hope to keep fighting for justice. They said the world was watching, today those 12 jurors showed up. Thank you
— Andrea Jenkins (@annapoetic) April 20, 2021
Minneapolis Council Member Phillipe Cunningham, who is the first openly trans man elected to public office in the US, spoke out on Twitter in response to the verdict. “Rejoice in accountability,” Cunningham said, but added that “a guilty verdict is an island in a sea of injustices.” He went on to argue that true justice would mean systemic changes to stop the cycle of state violence.
Cunningham called on people to send love and prayers to George Floyd, Daunte Wright and their families, saying, “Black bodies must no longer be used as sacrifices to further social progress.”
Rejoice in accountability. Breathe a sigh of relief. But we must not get lost in this moment. A guilty verdict is an island in a sea of injustices. This broken system is far from fixed.
— Phillipe Cunningham (@CunninghamMPLS) April 21, 2021
Malcolm Kenyatta, who is a Pennsylvania state representative and was named by Out Magazine as one of 2020’s most influential LGBTQ+ people, also took to Twitter to respond to the verdict. “It has sadly been a rare occurrence in American history for an abusive and criminal police officer to be held accountable for murdering a Black person, and I hope today’s verdict sends an important message that no one is above the law. Our work to dismantle systemic racism at every level of our society, especially the criminal justice system, is far from over.”
It has sadly been a rare occurrence in American history for an abusive and criminal police officer to be held accountable for murdering a Black person, and I hope today’s verdict sends an important message that no one is above the law.
— Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (@malcolmkenyatta) April 20, 2021
LGBTQ+ organisations have also made statements on the verdict. The LGBTQ Victory Fund released a statement saying “We are relieved that George Floyd’s killer was convicted for his actions, but this is one trial for one murder. True justice would be George Floyd returning home to his family last May and an erasure of the trauma caused by his death. True justice is an end to police killings of Black and Brown people and a national commitment to end systemic racism and white supremacy.”
GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis also spoke out. “The verdicts convicting Derek Chauvin deliver some accountability for his actions. They now must lead us toward greater safety and trust, especially for Black people, queer people of colour and transgender people and youth who are disproportionately at risk of harassment, discrimination and violence, including violence by police.”
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