In the words of the Rev. Al Sharpton during a press conference after the verdict was read: “Let us pray.”
Prayers have been answered and our cries have been heard, a jury has found Derek Chauvin, a white former Minneapolis police officer guilty in the cold-blooded killing of George Floyd, a Black man.
A diverse group of six white, four black and two multicultural jurors found Chauvin guilty on all three charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Crowds erupted with cheers as the verdict was read Tuesday. The historic decision brings justice just a little closer in the “caught-on-video” murder that sparked protests around the world.
On May 25, 2020, Floyd was arrested after allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a grocery store in the Powderhorn Park neighborhood of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Chauvin and three other officers responded to the scene.
After a bit of resistance, Floyd was handcuffed face down in the street, while Chauvin pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck and two other officers leaned on his back. For 9 minutes and 29 seconds, Chauvin ignored Floyd as he begged for mercy, repeating that he could not breathe and crying out for his deceased mother to save him.
A fourth officer prevented onlookers from intervening. A crowd gathered and were pleading with the officers to let him go. The officers would not move, and Chauvin coldly stared into the cellphone cameras as multiple people filmed – in horror – what was happening before their eyes in broad daylight.
Seventeen minutes into the arrest, Floyd was unconscious. Repeatedly while pinned under Chauvin’s knee, he stated that he couldn’t breathe. During the final two minutes, Floyd was motionless and had no pulse. Onlookers repeatedly called out for help upon realization of Floyd’s struggling. Though the officers called for medical assistance, they took no action to treat him. Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck and back as emergency medical technicians arrived.
The medical examiner’s final findings, issued June 1, found that Floyd’s heart stopped while he was being restrained and that his death was a homicide caused by “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.”
After much protesting, Chauvin was finally charged. The trial began on March 8, 2021. Defense attorneys argued that Chauvin was acting within the rights of the law, but prosecutors pleaded with the jurors to just “believe what they saw” on video. The jury did and found Chauvin guilty on all three counts.
Now, Chauvin will have to wait to learn his punishment. The former cop was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.
The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (BLMGNF) released a statement in reaction to the guilty verdict.
“We hope this guilty verdict begins to show that white supremacy will not win. White supremacy has no place in democracy, especially one that is supposed to guarantee us our freedom to live.
“But let us also be clear that this still does not bring our loved ones back. We do not get George Floyd back. His daughter and family have to grow up without him. His family continues his legacy through the George Floyd Memorial Foundation.”
Houston was home
Floyd was born on October 14, 1973, in Fayetteville, North Carolina, to George Perry and Larcenia “Cissy” Jones Floyd. He had four siblings.
When he was two, after Floyd’s parents separated, his mother moved with the children to the Cuney Homes public housing, known as Bricks, in Houston’s Third Ward. Floyd was called Perry as a child, but also Big Floyd; being over six feet tall in middle school, he saw sports as a vehicle for improving his life.
Floyd attended Ryan Middle School, and graduated from Jack Yates High School in 1993. While at Yates, he was co-captain of the basketball team, playing as a power forward. He was also on the football team as a tight end, and in 1992, his team went to the Texas state championships.
The first of his siblings to go to college, Floyd attended South Florida Community College for two years on a football scholarship, and also played on the basketball team. He transferred to Texas A&M University–Kingsville in 1995, where he also played basketball before dropping out. At his tallest, he was 6 feet 6 inches, though by the time of his autopsy he was 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighed 223 pounds.
Shortly after Floyd’s death, his daughter Gianna said “my daddy changed the world.”
Yes, indeed, he did.