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Derek Chauvin’s Guilty Verdict means Justice for George Floyd

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Roar writer Shaheena Uddin on Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict in the murder of George Floyd.

The verdict for Derek Chauvin’s trial is in and it is with great relief that he has been found GUILTY, GUILTY, GUILTY.

Derek Chauvin was responsible for the brutal killing of George Floyd on May 25 2020. Almost a year later, the trial against the plaintiff took place on March 29 2021. 

Chauvin has been charged and found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. This amounts to a presumptive sentence of 12.5 years for each charge, and 4 years for manslaughter in prison to pay for his crimes.

Why it took so long for Chauvin to be arrested and put to a fair trial in the first place is confounding. The investigators claimed they needed to gather sufficient evidence before his arrest. It’s ironic the same level of consideration for “evidence” was not applied to Floyd before he was murdered unjustly. 

Additionally, the evidence was damning, given the clear video footage taken at the scene of the crime. The video has since circulated all across the globe, showcasing the murder being committed in broad daylight. Yet Chauvin was not arrested immediately.

The Minneapolis police department also attempted to downplay the Floyd murder by releasing a statement on May 26th titled ‘Man dies after Medical incident during police interaction‘ (which has since been taken down but is still available to read on web archives). What they failed to include in their statement was that an ambulance  was required because Chauvin knelt  on Floyd’s neck until he proclaimed “I can’t breathe.” Read a short analysis of the police’s statement here.

My thoughts and prayers are with George Floyd’s family and friends, during what must have been the most difficult time. It must have been immensely painful to wait almost an entire year for justice to be served for the murder of their loved one.

I am thankful to hear that justice has finally prevailed for George Floyd, with the perpetrator being sentenced to imprisonment. While this will never be enough to make up his death,  I hope that the result of the trial will at least provide his family with a sense of closure.

George’s six-year-old daughter, Gianna Floyd, has since shared a heartfelt message of hope after the verdict was announced – “Daddy changed the world.” Indeed, the death of George Floyd has shaken up the entire world and it will not easily be forgotten. 

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Although the #BlackLivesMatter movement has been going for many years, it seems that the virality of George Floyd has forced mainstream media to finally wake up to the grave reality of the situation.

The rightful outrage sparked from his murder has united many across the globe in standing up against injustice. This has opened up a gateway for difficult yet crucial conversations surrounding race to take place. Floyd’s case has also shed light on many other ongoing cases of police brutality.

Many would have heard about the recent murder of Daunte Wright, also from Minneapolis, on April 11, only days before the Chauvin trial. Wright was similarly killed by a police officer, Kimberly Ann Potter, after she “accidentally pulled out her gun, instead of her taser.”

Given that the weight and proportions of a gun are vastly different to that of a taser,  I find this excuse incredulous. Even if we were to assume she had pulled her gun out by mistake, how did she still somehow manage to pull the trigger, without realising she was in fact holding a gun in her hand?

Another case that took place only a mere minutes after the verdict from Chauvin’s case had been given, was that of Ma’Khia Byrant. Bryant, a 16-year-old girl, was shot and killed in Ohio by another police officer, Nicholas Reardon. 

Unfortunately, Floyd, Wright and Byrant are not the only cases.

In fact, since Derek Chauvin’s trial began, on average “more than three people have been killed by US police a day. More than half of those killed were Black or Latino.”

This shocking statistic comes from a New York Times Analysis into “gun violence databases, news media accounts and law enforcement releases”.

Since a lot of these cases get easily swept under the carpet, it’s not very often that the police are even held accountable for their crimes. There is also definitely a clear media and performative bias in reporting only the most “severe” or publicly visible cases of police brutality. That’s why the #SayTheirNames campaign is so important, especially for the cases that weren’t filmed, because too many of these cases don’t reach our attention through the mainstream media.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Although most people’s reactions to the verdict have been positive, some reacted adversely against the trial’s results, as well as towards the previous BLM protests. It reminds me of this apt quote:

“Racism is so American that when you protest IT, people think you are protesting AMERICA.”

Prominent American right-wing commentators like Tomi Lahren and Ben Shapiro, have claimed the killing had nothing to do with race. Despite the statistics proving that the black community has suffered the highest rate of police shootings in the US from 2015-2021 than any other ethnicity. If anything their ignorant denial to see blatant racism, further proves its existence.

Equally, Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House, exhibited a poor choice of words on the matter: “Thank you George Floyd for sacrificing your life for justice.” Her language omits the truth – Floyd did not willingly “sacrifice” his life, he was murdered. Don’t twist him into a sacrificial lamb symbol, which detracts from holding the murderer accountable for his actions!

While the outcome of the trial was definitely a step in the right direction, it is not giving me complete peace of mind. Knowing that there are still racists out there who share the mentality of this criminal, especially in positions of power and influence, is disturbing, to say the least.

It just goes to show that racism is a pandemic and the fight against it, and police brutality is far from over. 

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English BA Student. Cat person. Tea addict.

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