BY BODE GBADEBO and INNOCENT ODOH with AGENCY report
Reactions have continued to trail the guilty verdict passed on police officer, Derek Chauvin, for murdering George Floyd in May 2020.
After 10 hours of deliberations in the trial, Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all three charges related to the killing of George Floyd, whose death last May sparked protests across the United States against racial injustice and police violence.
A jury in Minneapolis, Minnesota, reached its widely awaited verdict on Tuesday afternoon (US time). Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Before the verdict was announced, US President, Joe Biden, said on Tuesday that he believed the case was “overwhelming”.
He said he had spoken to Floyd’s family on Monday and “can only imagine the pressure and anxiety they’re feeling”.
“They’re a good family and they’re calling for peace and tranquility no matter what that verdict is,” Biden said. “I’m praying the verdict is the right verdict. I think it’s overwhelming, in my view. I wouldn’t say that unless the jury was sequestered now.”
Also, Facebook co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg, posted on his facebook page after the verdict: “Right now I’m thinking of George Floyd, his family and those who knew him. I hope this verdict brings some measure of comfort to them, and to everyone who can’t help but see themselves in his story. We stand in solidarity with you, knowing that this is part of a bigger struggle against racism and injustice.”
Attorney Ben Crump and George Floyd’s family released a statement following the conviction of Derek Chauvin, saying, “today’s verdict goes far beyond this city and has significant implications for the country and even the world.”
The statement read; “Painfully earned justice has arrived for George Floyd’s family and the community here in Minneapolis, but today’s verdict goes far beyond this city and has significant implications for the country and even the world.
“Justice for Black America is justice for all of America. This case is a turning point in American history for accountability of law enforcement and sends a clear message we hope is heard clearly in every city and every state.
“We thank Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and his team for their fierce dedication to justice for George. But it does not end here. We have not forgotten that the other three officers who played their own roles in the death of George Floyd must still be held accountable for their actions, as well.”
US Congresswoman, Ilhan Omars said: “This feels different for our community, justice feels new and long overdue.” Ilhan Omar represents a district that includes Minneapolis.
The Black Lives Matter movement said it hoped the verdict helps the Floyd family rest easier.
But it said “this isn’t proof the system works” because it took 330 days “to confirm what we already knew”.
Gene Rossi, a former US federal prosecutor, said the rapid deliberation by the jury shows that Minnesota prosecutors proved their case very effectively.
“This is a historic verdict. This was a historic trial. It is very difficult to prosecute a police officer,” Rossi told Al Jazeera.
He said that when a jury does not ask questions, that signals “there is little friction in the room”.
“When they come back in such a quick time after a lengthy trial – this was almost three weeks – that spells bad news for the defendant. And of course it was bad news.”
Muslim civil rights group Muslim Advocates welcomed the jury’s verdict on Tuesday, calling it “a long-overdue measure of justice for the Floyd family”.
The group called for the other officers involved in Floyd’s killing to also be held accountable.
Three other officers who were with Chauvin at the time of Floyd’s death will appear in court in August to face lesser charges.
“Further, we must all take drastic, immediate action to overhaul the law enforcement and justice systems that have allowed this violence to continue for so long,” said Muslim Advocates Executive Director Farhana Khera.
Minutes after the announcement Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said the verdict “delivers accountability for Derek Chauvin, but not justice for George Floyd,” he said in a tweet.
“Real justice for him and too many others can only happen when we build a nation that fundamentally respects the human dignity of every person,” Sanders said.
Anticipating more protests, the courthouse was surrounded with concrete barriers and razor wire during the trial.
People across the US have been on edge as they braced for the decision, as protesters demanded justice for Floyd on Tuesday outside the Minneapolis government building where the trial was heard.
Thousands of National Guard troops and law enforcement officers were brought in ahead of the verdict. Many businesses were boarded up with plywood.