George Floyd's family say 'we can breathe again' after guilty verdict for Derek Chauvin

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Josie Ensor
·3 min read
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George Floyd's brother Philonise Floyd speaks during a news conference after the verdict was read in the trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin - AP
George Floyd's brother Philonise Floyd speaks during a news conference after the verdict was read in the trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin - AP

George Floyd’s family described the guilty verdict for former officer Derek Chauvin as a “pivotal moment” in history and promised to continue fighting for victims of police brutality.

Speaking following the decision, George’s younger brother Philonise broke down in tears as he lamented the “never-ending cycle” of police violence impacting black Americans.

“We have to keep protesting,” he said. “I’m not just fighting for George any more, but for everyone.”

“I got messages from all over the world - Brazil, Ghana, London - all saying the same thing - we won’t be able to breathe until you can breathe," Philonise said. "Well, today we are able to breathe again. Justice for George means freedom for all.”

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He talked about how difficult it was to sit through the evidence during the three-week trial of Chauvin, who kneeled on Mr Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes until he died.

“I watched my brother getting executed day after day after day in that courtroom,” Philonise said. “You have the cameras all around the world to see and show what happened to my brother. It was a motion picture. The world's seen his life been extinguished, and I could do nothing but watch."

He said he has been unable to sleep during the trial, but hoped that the decision would bring him peace.

Ben Crump, the Floyd family’s lawyer, hailed the verdict as a landmark victory for civil rights and a springboard to legislation to reform police forces in their dealings with minorities.

Philonise Floyd said he hoped that the decision would bring him peace. - Reuters
Philonise Floyd said he hoped that the decision would bring him peace. - Reuters

"This verdict is a turning point in history and sends a clear message on the need for accountability of law enforcement," Mr Crump said. "Justice for Black America is justice for all of America."

President Joe Biden told the family on Tuesday that he was “relieved” justice had been served and that “the world is going to change now”.

He referenced comments by Floyd's daughter, Gianna, that her late father was going to change the world. 'He's going to start to change it now,' Mr Biden said.

He told the family afterward: 'You're an incredible family. I wish I were there – just [to] put my arms around you.'

"Nothing is going to make it all better, but at least now there is some justice," he told the family, saying he hoped the verdict would give momentum to Congressional police reform efforts he had been pushing for.