Following global protests that drove millions out into the streets over the past year, and thanks in part to an excruciating cell phone recording of his murder that has played on a seemingly never-ending loop on many news networks, justice for George Floyd has finally been served. After just 10 hours of debate, jurors found former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin guilty of all three charges laid against him: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
The New York Times has reported that when Chauvin is sentenced in the coming weeks, he will be facing serious prison time. “The presumptive sentence for the most serious charge, second-degree murder, is 12.5 years, according to Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines,” the reporters wrote. “But the prosecution has asked for a lengthier sentence, arguing that there were children present at the scene, that Mr. Chauvin treated Mr. Floyd with ‘particular cruelty’ and that he ‘abused his position of authority.’”
But even with Chauvin convicted, there is still much to do to fix the problems with police treatment of Blacks in America.
“The verdict was hailed across the country by civil rights leaders and honking motorists,” The Times wrote. “It gave a tense nation a moment to exhale, even as recent police killings in a Minneapolis suburb, Chicago and, on Tuesday afternoon, Columbus, Ohio, sent Americans back into the streets, holding signs that asked, ‘How many more?’”
In an address to the nation following the verdict, President Joe Biden called the conviction of Chauvin “a step forward,” but also said that the U.S. still has to reckon with systemic racism in all walks of life, including policing.
According to Dartunorro Clark and Shannon Pettypiece of NBC News, Biden welcomed the guilty verdict and said that such moments are “much too rare” in the country and “not enough” to solve the racial problems we currently face.
“It was a murder in the full light of day, and it ripped the blinders off the whole world to see,” Biden said. “For so many, it feels like it took all of that for the judicial system to deliver just basic accountability.” He then reflected on Chauvin’s behavior and the way he mercilessly murdered Floyd and said events like these show that “systemic racism is a stain on our nation’s soul.”
As he concluded his address, the President called on everyone in the country to continue to do more and continue to push for diversity, inclusion and social justice reform in whatever ways possible.
“I can’t breathe. Those were George Floyd’s last words,” Biden said. “We can’t let those words die with him. We have to keep hearing those words. We must not turn away. We can’t turn away. This can be a moment of significant change.”
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