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Crime News Black Lives Matter

George Floyd’s Family Rejoice, Are 'Able To Breathe Again' Following Derek Chauvin Conviction

George Floyd’s brother Philonise shared his family's relief after the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, but noted much more remains to be done in the battle to end police brutality.

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt
Terrence Floyd Ap

George Floyd’s family is rejoicing after the conviction of former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin, but they remain determined to continue the fight to end police brutality.

Floyd, a Black man, was killed on May 25, 2020, when Chauvin, a white officer, kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed and pinned to the ground in an episode captured dramatically on cell phone video that quickly went viral and sparked outrage across the nation and world. A jury on Tuesday convicted Chauvin of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter following a weeks-long trial. After the verdict was read, Floyd’s family addressed the public in a press conference, with Floyd's brother Philonise pointing to his brother’s killing as one of many senseless deaths.

“The world [saw] his light being extinguished, and I could do nothing but watch, especially in that courtroom, over and over and over again as my brother was murdered. Times, they getting harder every day. Ten miles away from here, Mr. Wright, Duante Wright, he should still be here,” he said, referring to the April 11 killing of Duante Wright in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center. The officer in that case, Kim Potter, shot and killed the 20-year-old father during a routine traffic stop in what police have claimed was an “accidental discharge.” “We have to always understand that we have to march. We will have to this for life. We have to protest because it seems like this is a never-ending cycle.”

“I’ma put up a fight every day, because I’m not just fighting for George anymore. I’m fighting for everybody around this world,” he continued. “I get calls, I get DMs. … They’re all saying the same thing: ‘We won’t be able to breathe until you’re able to breathe.’ Today, we are able to breathe again.”

“I can’t breathe,” one of the last things that George Floyd said before he died, became a rallying cry for justice in the months following his murder. During Tuesday’s press conference, Philonise Floyd likened his brother’s murder to the tragic case of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Black child who was lynched in 1955 after being falsely accused of whistling at a white woman.

"He was the first George Floyd – Emmett Till,” he said, adding later, “People forgot about him, but he was the first George Floyd. But today, you have the cameras all around the world to see and show what happened to my brother.”  

Following Floyd’s murder, Chauvin was first placed on administrative leave before being fired, along with three other officers who were on the scene that day. Following his conviction, he has been placed in a segregated housing unit of the Minnesota Correctional Facility-Oak Park Heights for his own safety as he awaits sentencing, a spokesperson for police confirmed to CNN. He’s likely to be sentenced sometime in June, when he will face a maximum of 40 years for the second-degree murder charge, up to 25 years for third-degree murder, and up to 10 years for manslaughter, all of which would likely be served concurrently, according to CNN.

On Tuesday, Floyd’s family pointed to their faith as something that helped them remain strong while fighting for justice.

“My family is a family that will not back down from prayer, and I believe, because of prayer, we got the verdict we wanted,” one of George Floyd’s brothers, Terrence Floyd, said. “We got on our knees. Some of us stood up. But we asked the right person. We asked the right one. We said, ‘God, we need justice. We need it now.’ And he answered.”

He went on to say of his brother, “Every day of my life, I will salute him. That he showed me how to be strong. He showed me how to be respectful. He showed me how to speak my mind. I’ma miss him. But now I know he’s in history. What a day to be a Floyd, man.”

Another one of Floyd's brothers, Rodney Floyd, said that he was moved to tears after the verdict was read, according to NBC News.

“I’m feeling tears of joy, so emotional that no family in history ever got this far,” he said, adding, “We got a chance to go to trial and took it all the way. This right here is for everyone that has been in this situation. Everybody.”

Prior to Tuesday’s conviction, Floyd’s family said that President Joe Biden called them to let them know that they were in his prayers and that he was “hoping that everything will come out to be OK,” Philonise Floyd told NBC's "TODAY" show earlier this week. Following the verdict, Biden described the decision as a step forward, but noted that it was also “much too rare,” according to The New York Times.

The other three officers who were present during Floyd’s murder — Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane — were fired along with Chauvin last year. They have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. They're scheduled to stand trial in August, according to the Star Tribune.