The family of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed when a police officer pinned him with his knee for more than nine minutes, expressed relief and gratitude Tuesday after Derek Chauvin was convicted in Floyd’s death.
“I feel relieved today that I finally have the opportunity for hopefully getting some sleep,” said Philonise Floyd, the brother of George Floyd, who was killed in Minneapolis in May 2020.
Chauvin, a 45-year-old white man, was convicted of Floyd’s murder Tuesday, with a jury finding him guilty on all three charges he faced: one count of second-degree unintentional murder, one count of third-degree murder and and one count of second-degree manslaughter.
The killing of Floyd set off a nationwide reckoning on race and sparked ongoing calls for police reform.
At a news conference after Chauvin was convicted, several members of Floyd’s family celebrated the verdict — expressing relief at the outcome — and echoed calls for police reform “to make sure not another family has to suffer what we suffered.”
“I get calls. I get DMs, people from Brazil, from Ghana, from Germany. Everybody. London, Italy, 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,” Philonise Floyd said.
Terrence Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, called the trial’s outcome “monumental,” adding that he’s grateful his family “got to see this history made.”
“I’m going to miss him, but now I know he’s in history. What a day to be a Floyd, man,” Terrence Floyd said.
But the family also stressed that Tuesday’s verdict does not mean the fight for reform is over. Several family members called Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and said they’ll continue to fight for justice for victims of police violence.
“We need each and every officer to be held accountable. Until then, it’s still scary to be a Black man or woman in America encountering police,” said Brandon Williams, George Floyd’s nephew. “So when I say today is a pivotal moment, it’s a time for America to take the turn in the right direction and right a lot of wrongs so we don’t keep adding to these names.”
Following the news conference, Philonise Floyd told CNN that though people are celebrating Tuesday, it would be “back to business” come Wednesday.
“We all need justice. We are all fighting for one reason and it is justice for all. And I think today has been an occasion where people can celebrate but tomorrow is back to business because we have to stay steps ahead of everything,” he said.
President Joe Biden, who earlier Tuesday said he was “praying” for a guilty verdict in the trial, spoke to the Floyd family over the phone following Chauvin’s conviction, telling them he wished he was there “to put my arms around you.”
“Nothing is going to make it all better but at least now there is some justice,” Biden told the family.
Chauvin will be sentenced in eight weeks and faces up to 40 years in prison.