George Floyd: What was the reaction like to Chauvin's guilty verdict?

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By Hebe Campbell
Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, left, and attorney Ben Crump raise their hands in triumph during a news conference after the murder conviction against former Minneap
Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, left, and attorney Ben Crump raise their hands in triumph during a news conference after the murder conviction against former Minneap   -  Copyright  John Minchillo/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Many activists and politicians spoke out with relief after former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of killing George Floyd during an arrest in May 2020.

The death of the black man, who yelled out that he couldn't breathe as the white police officer kneeled on his neck for 9 1/2 minutes, had sparked mass protests across the United States over racial justice.

Chauvin was found guilty of murder on Wednesday.

While some hailed it as a watershed moment, many warned that it was merely the first step towards equal justice for people of colour.

"Today’s verdict brings us a step closer to making equal justice under law a reality," said US Vice President Kamala Harris after the verdict was read. "But the verdict will not heal [the] pain that has existed for generations.

"It will not take away the pain felt by the Floyd family. That’s why we must recommit to fight for equal justice," Harris added.

The Black Lives Matter movement, which supported global protests for racial justice following the death of Floyd, posted on their UK page that their "thoughts and hearts" were with Floyd's family.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said he "welcomed" the verdict, adding that his thoughts were also with Floyd's family and friends.

Amanda Gorman, known for her poetry reading at the 2021 US presidential inauguration of Joe Biden, said however that "victory would be George Floyd being alive".

A short time before the verdict was announced, Gorman said: "The fact that we know what the verdict should be but remain unsure of what it will be, speaks volumes about our nation. We have work to do."

It was a sentiment echoed by US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi who tweeted: "George Floyd should be alive today.

"His family’s calls for justice for his murder were heard around the world. He did not die in vain. We must make sure other families don't suffer the same racism, violence & pain, and we must enact the George Floyd #JusticeInPolicing Act."

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is a bill regarding police accountability aiming to hold law enforcement accountable in court, improve transparency through data collection, and reform police training and policies.

The bill is currently waiting for debate and a vote in the Senate.

Former US President Barack Obama said on Twitter that the "jury did the right thing".

"We stand with all those who are committed to guaranteeing every American the full measure of justice that George and so many others have been denied," Obama went onto say.

"This verdict is the work of George Floyd's family. This is the work of community. This is the work of protesters," US congresswoman Cori Bush tweeted.

"But this verdict is not why we come together. Our work is to save Black lives, and our work continues." 

Hope Not Hate, an advocacy group that campaigns against racism, said the verdict was the start, not the end.

"We stand in solidarity with all those who fought tirelessly for this historic victory."

London Mayor Sadiq Kahn said: "By itself – this guilty verdict won't heal the pain of the loss felt by George Floyd’s loved ones, and by people across the globe.

"But it can, and must, lead to immediate and lasting change everywhere. #BlackLivesMatter."