Crowds outside of a Minneapolis courthouse erupted in cheers and chants of “All three counts!” Tuesday after Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd.
“Nothing is going to make it all better,” Biden could be heard saying to Floyd’s family in a phone call that Ben Crump, a civil rights attorney, captured in a video after the verdict was reached. “But at least, God, now there’s some justice.”
“We’re all so relieved,” Biden said.
During a press conference Tuesday, Floyd’s younger brother Philonise said, “Today, we are able to breathe again.”
The jurors convicted Chauvin of third-degree murder, second-degree unintentional murder, and second-degree manslaughter after about 10 hours of deliberation and three weeks of sometimes emotional testimony from 45 witnesses. The verdict was remarkable, in part, for its rarity: Officers aren’t often held accountable for police killings. Protesters have become accustomed to acquittals, even in high-profile cases of police brutality.
"George Floyd mattered,” said Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who personally handled the prosecution, after the verdict was read. “He was loved by his family and friends. His death shocked the conscience of our country, and the whole world. He was loved by his family and friends. But that isn’t why he mattered. He mattered because he was a human being."
Floyd’s death, which was captured on viral bystander footage, ignited a global movement against police violence and systemic racism. People protested in at least 140 U.S. cities. Four officers present for Floyd’s arrest, including Chauvin, were fired and charged in the aftermath of his May 25 death. Several states and cities also moved to ban chokeholds and neck restraints after Chauvin was seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes as he cried that he couldn’t breathe.
In the moments after Chauvin was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs Tuesday, several organizations and officials stressed that there’s still more to fight for.
“For the first time in Minnesota state history, a white police officer has been held accountable for killing a Black man,” the American Civil Liberties Union said in a tweet.
“While today’s verdict is a small win for police accountability and may help heal a grieving community, the systems that allowed George to be murdered—ripping him away from his family and the communities that loved him so much—remain fully intact,” the ACLU added.
Tim Walz, Minnesota’s governor, said in a statement that “our work has only begun.”
“True justice for George only comes through real, systemic change to prevent this from happening again,” Walz said.
Minneapolis community members echoed that sentiment Tuesday.
“This is just the start,” one person said as they waved a “Black Lives Matter” flag outside their car window.
Frank Nitty, a Black Lives Matter leader from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, told VICE News: “It’s a small victory.”
Still, “we’re feeling fired up and ready to continue to fight for change,” Nitty said.
One woman out in Minneapolis Tuesday said she could now tell her son “that man who killed George was convicted.”
“Even just if for today, it gives us and our community a little bit of hope,” another woman said.
Several cities and states prepared for demonstrations ahead of Tuesday’s verdict. Minnesota’s governor declared a state of emergency in the counties around Minneapolis. The mayor of Portland—which saw more than 100 days of protests last summer—also declared an emergency.