MINNEAPOLIS — Relatives reacted with relief after Derek Chauvin was convicted Tuesday in connection with the death of George Floyd last May.
“They’re all saying the same thing, ‘We won’t be able to breathe until you’re able to breathe,’” Floyd’s brother, Philonese Floyd, said at a news conference about two hours after a jury returned a guilty verdict on all three charges against the former Minneapolis police officer. “Today, we are able to breathe again.”
“What a day to be a Floyd,” said another brother, Terrence Floyd, of New York.
Jurors on Tuesday found Chauvin guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the May 2020 death of George Floyd, 46.
“I was just praying they would find him guilty,” Philonese Floyd told CNN immediately after the verdict. “As an African American, we usually never get justice.”
Earlier, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and his team of prosecutors thanked the Floyd family.
“Over the last year, the family of George Floyd had to relive again and again, the worst day of their lives, when they lost their brother, their father, their friend,” Ellison said at a news conference. “I’m profoundly grateful to them for giving us the time we needed to prosecute this case. They have shown the world what grace and class and courage really look like.”
During the three weeks of the trial, the jury heard from 45 witnesses, including paramedics, police officials, bystanders (some who were minors at the time of Floyd’s death), and loved ones.
The defense was unable to convince the jury that Floyd could have died from his pre-existing heart disease, drug use, or even from carbon monoxide poisoning from the police car’s exhaust.
“Systemic racism is a stain on America’s soul,” President Joe Biden said from the White House on Tuesday evening, adding that the guilty verdict was a “giant step forward in the march towards justice in America.”
Philonese Floyd said he was grateful for the “worldwide support” his family has received.
“We are here and we are not going anywhere,” Philonese Floyd said, referencing the 1955 murder of Emmitt Till. “Justice for George means freedom for all.
“Emmitt Till was the first George Floyd.”
Terrence Floyd said he was feeling “so many emotions.”
“This is history. History is here,” he said, noting that the efforts of Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton were not in vain. “This is monumental.”
“They (Jackson and Sharpton) lived to see this. Their fight wasn’t in vain. It just didn’t happen when they did it. But I happened now,” Terrence Floyd said. “And they’re here to see it.”
Rodney Floyd, the “baby brother” of the siblings, called the verdict “a victory for all of us.”
“There’s no color barrier here,” Rodney Floyd said. “It is a victory for all of us.”
During a brief address to the nation Tuesday night, President Joe Biden said the fight for justice was just beginning.
“I assured the Floyd family that we’re going to continue to fight for the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act so I can sign it into law right away,” President Joe Biden said from the White House on Tuesday night.
“We’re going to stay at it until we get it done,” Biden told the Floyd family in a telephone call shortly after the verdict was announced.