After Derek Chauvin was pronounced guilty in the death of George Floyd yesterday, people around the country responded with mixed emotions.
In George Floyd Square in Minneapolis, crowds cheered as the verdict was announced. CBS Minnesota reports that around 300 people had gathered at the square, the sight of Floyd’s death last Memorial Day, and that by the evening, “the square was a scene of celebration, prayer, and community relief.”
“It means so much to me,” said Venisha Johnson, who was in attendance at the square. “I’ve been praying for George every day, every morning at 6 a.m. I’m just so happy. The way he was murdered was terrible, but thank you Jesus,” she told the news outlet.
Speaking to NPR, Billy Wilder, also in attendance at George Floyd Square, expressed joy and relief, but also apprehension, about the verdict. Calling the day, “a new day in America,” he added, “Everybody saw it. But still you’re sitting, thinking back to Rodney King days — everybody saw that, too — those cops got off.”
His mixed emotional response captures what many seem to be feeling. Although many are relieved that Chauvin has been held accountable in Floyd’s death, they’re also aware that justice isn’t always served when it comes to police misconduct against Black and Brown people.
“That was a moment I will never be able to relive; I will always have it inside of me,” Floyd’s brother, Philonese Floyd, told CNN about the moment he heard the verdict delivered. “Being able to know that it’s justice for African American people — just people of color, period — in this world. This is monumental, this is historic, this is a pivotal moment in history.”
“And all I can think about is Emmett Till,” he added. “I think about Sandra Bland. I think about Eric Gardner. It’s so many people. We have new people being killed.”
In a statement to the country last night, President Biden referred to the verdict as “a step forward” but also that “such a verdict is also much too rare.” Citing the factors that had to come together to ensure the conviction, he said, “For so many, it feels like it took all of that for the judicial system to deliver a just — just basic accountability.”
Chauvin was taken into custody following the verdict, which found him guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd. The judge in the case said he expected Chauvin to be sentenced in around eight weeks. Following the verdict, Chauvin could face a maximum of 40 years in prison for second-degree murder.