Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA – With his head shaved, dressed in civilian clothes and wearing a blue medical mask, former police officer Derek Chauvin arrived at the Minneapolis courtroom to convict him. Friday afternoon.
When a small group gathered in a grassy square in front of Hennepin County Court to hear the sentence, bursting into intermittent chants of “without justice“There is no peace”, others did the same from George Floyd Square, just over 6.4 miles south of Minneapolis, where Floyd was killed last year.
After an hour of impact statements from victims of several members of the Floyd family, Chauvin’s mother, and a brief statement from Chauvin himself, Judge Peter Cahill ruled a sentence of 22.5 years, minus the 199 full days, for the second-degree murder charge by which Chauvin he was convicted in April.
Before dictating his decision, Cahill made a brief statement that included a gesture of health to the trauma that the community, state and country have experienced as a result of the trial while extending sympathies to the Floyd family.
“I’m not going to try to be deep or smart here because it’s not the right time,” he said in a slight Minnesota accent.
Cahill explained that he made his decision based on the law and the facts, noting sympathy or emotion, adding that “the job of a trial court is … to deal with specific cases,” not send a political or cultural message.
DA Bullock, filmmaker i community activist in North Minneapolis, he told Al Jazeera moments after the verdict was announced that he had not spent any time thinking about how long Chauvin could get.
“It has never occurred to me that it will be satisfactory or change anything around the people who are now safe in our neighborhoods,” he said.
“I don’t think people are convinced of justice here because they know that Derek Chauvin is not alone. They know this is one [Minneapolis Police Department]general problem “.
“There has also been frustration in the coverage of this case,” Bullock continued. “I understand that this is an important case, but it denies the fact that we had another police murder Winston Smith“, Who was shot by police in Minneapolis on June 3.
“We don’t know anything about the case: there is no transparency around it, nor are there facts of the case presented to the public or even to know why [the police] we are bringing it closer, “he added.” History is not all wrapped up in an arc now that we have this condemnation and sentence of this officer. “
Out of court, the Rev. Al Sharpton, the Floyd family’s attorney, Ben Crump and more, gathered to pray with Sharpton echoing many of Bullock’s feelings.
“We got a court order, a conviction and some time. Some will say this is progress, ”Sharpton told the crowd.
“I will say, as Malcolm X said: if you have a six-centimeter knife in your back, pulling it out of four centimeters is progress, but I still have two centimeters of knife in your back.”
Four miles (6.4 km) south of downtown, a loudspeaker explodes at the Beatles as people joke about cars circulating at the newly reopened intersection where Floyd was killed for braking.
A group of young people containing cartons of blue polystyrene foam eggs happily toss the white spheres while the others fight to get out of the way.
At the recently defunct gas station across the street, Broderick Johnson and Deon Moore were chatting and exchanging information after meeting for the first time in George Floyd Square. Johnson came to Minneapolis from Orlando, Florida, for a summer trip that ended up coinciding with the sentence.
“Just being here with everyone, watching them come together, hearing the phrase, is history. I brought my wife and six-year-old son. It has really been a blessing to be able to share the moment and get to the area where it really happened, ”he told Al Jazeera.
“It’s sad, but it’s something we can teach our children in the future that not all children are good police. For Broderick, Chauvin’s 22-year sentence is “a beginning, a step in getting to where we need to be.”
For Moore, who came to Minneapolis from Indiana for his cousin’s funeral earlier in the week and stayed in George Floyd Square today, it feels “surreal” to be here today. He describes the sentence as mild for murder.
“Thirty years would have been beautiful, but guess what? He still has to go to Washington, DC, “he told Al Jazeera, referring to Chauvin’s slopes. federal charges.
Under the shade of the nearby gas station canopy, Larry Hawkins came to the square today with a co-worker from Bloomington, a suburb of Minneapolis.
He came to “say goodbye to a person I’ve never met,” he told Al Jazeera. He is glad Chauvin has been convicted, but thinks the sentence should have been longer.
“I want to tell Chauvin: if you thought he was wrong, why didn’t you do your job? If he did something wrong, your job was to take him to jail. And we wouldn’t be here. “
Ultimately, for Hawkins, “we shouldn’t have had to get together like that for that; there shouldn’t have been any murder or killing to get us together.”