‘This can be a moment of significant change’: World reacts after George Floyd verdict

20 April 2021, 23:39 | Updated: 21 April 2021, 01:19

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Derek Chauvin has been found guilty of all charges of killing George Floyd, whose death last year in Minneapolis sparked huge protests across the US and the world.

A jury found Chauvin guilty on Tuesday of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after a three-week trial.

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents the family of George Floyd, tweeted a video of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris calling the Floyd family immediately after the verdict.

READ MORE: A timeline of events as Derek Chauvin is found guilty of murder

READ MORE: How did other cases involving US police officers end?

Mr Biden told the family: "Nothing is going to make it all better, but at least now there is some justice."

"We're all so relieved," he added.

According to the White House, Mr Biden and Ms Harris watched the verdict live from the private dining room just off the Oval Office.

Later, Mr Biden told a press conference: "It was a murder in the full light of day and it ripped the blinders off the whole world to see... systemic racism is a stain on our nation’s soul."

He recalled Mr Floyd's final words, "I can't breathe", adding: "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.

"We have a chance to begin to change the trajectory in this country."

"This can be a moment of significant change," he said.

Ms Harris added: "Today, we feel a sigh of relief. Still, it cannot take away the pain."

"We still must reform the system," she said.

Former US president and first lady Barack and Michelle Obama issued a statement welcoming the verdict, but warned America's problem with race is far from solved.

They said: "True justice requires that we come to terms with the fact that Black Americans are treated differently, every day. It requires us to recognise that millions of our friends, family, and fellow citizens live in fear that their next encounter with law enforcement could be their last.

"And it requires us to do the sometimes thankless, often difficult, but always necessary work of making the America we know more like the America we believe in."

Oprah Winfrey, one of the most prominent black women in America, said she was brought to tears by the verdict.

She wrote on Instagram: "Relieved-and emotional in ways I didn't expect. I cried tears of joy as each verdict was read. I'm grateful to the witnesses and their testimonies."

Winfrey said she was "grateful to Darnella Frazier," the teenager who filmed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd.

She added: "Grateful to every Juror for seeing and acknowledging what the world saw on that tape. Thank you God for real! #GeorgeFloyd."

Mr Crump released a statement saying: "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 this 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."

Minnesota's top law enforcement officer, Attorney General Keith Ellison, who led the case on behalf of the state, said at a news conference: "I would not call today's verdict justice because justice implies restoration. But it is accountability, which is the first step towards justice."

Former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted "Black lives matter".

"George Floyd's family and community deserved for his killer to be held accountable," she said.

"Today, they got that accountability.

"Always and forever, Black lives matter."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote on Twitter: "I was appalled by the death of George Floyd and welcome this verdict. My thoughts tonight are with George Floyd’s family and friends."

London mayor Sadiq Khan added: "My thoughts are with George Floyd's loved ones. I welcome the verdict but by itself this won't heal the pain of their loss, which reverberated around the world. The guilty verdict must be the beginning of real change - not the end."

David Lammy, Labour's shadow justice secretary, said: "No judgment can ever make up for murder, but it means everything that justice has been served tonight for George Floyd.

"Let this send a clear message both in the USA and across the world: Black Lives Matter."

Stars including Mariah Carey, Kerry Washington and Chris Evans also welcomed the guilty verdict.

Chart-topping singer Carey tweeted "Hallelujah!!!!!!!!" in response to the news, before adding: "A beginning.. a small grain of hope for our future."

Scandal actor Washington wrote: "A guilty #verdict. But this fight for justice is not over. We have a lot of work to do. There is more fight ahead of us. But RIGHT NOW please take CARE of yourself. And let's take care of each other. Prayers and love to the family of #GeorgeFloyd."

Evans, known for playing Captain America in the Marvel films, said: "Justice. Sending love to George Floyd's family and friends."

British F1 driver Lewis Hamilton also shared his reaction, describing the verdict as "monumental".

He added: "But this is just one step on the path towards a more equal society. Since George's death, so many other Black people have died at the hands of the police and we must ensure the momentum of today continues. The fight isn't over, and there is more to be done."

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