Verdict in case of Floyd’s murder welcomed, but struggle continues
The organiser of a Black Lives Matter rally in Londonderry has said the conviction of a former police officer for killing George Floyd is “bittersweet” and stressed that the struggle for justice within the black community continues.
Derek Chauvin was found guilty of all three counts — second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter — in the killing of Mr Floyd following a three-week trial in Minneapolis.
Lilian Seenoi Barr of the North West Migrants Forum said while the conviction was a positive move, it should not be seen as justice for all.
“Even though it was very clear that this was murder, in previous cases families and communities never got justice so we were very apprehensive,” she said.
“The moment of the verdict was such as emotional one but also bittersweet. As much as we are very grateful and relieved that this one person was held accountable, we cannot bring back George Floyd and also so many other families are still demanding justice.
"Let’s not mistake one person being brought to justice as justice for the whole community because it is not. We are still angry that our people are being killed but what we can say is that this the start of the journey for our community. We will still be vigilant as the struggle continues,” Ms Seenoi Barr added.
The PSNI issued around 70 Covid fines at two Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Belfast and Derry last June.
After a probe by the Police Ombudsman found the handling of the protests was unfair, discriminatory and had severely damaged ethnic minorities’ faith in the police, Chief Constable Simon Byrne apologised.
At the time of the protests there were strict restrictions on public gatherings due to the lockdown. In other parts of the UK the protests led to historical monuments linked to the slave trade being targeted, prompting a counter protest at Belfast City Hall on June 13. No arrests were made or fines handed out at the counter protest.
Cuthbert Tura Arutura, who was voluntarily interviewed by police in July after attending the two BLM rallies, also welcomed the verdict.
“It was great to see justice properly being served. We always knew this would be a process and it allows everyone to understand what our lived experience is,” Mr Arutura said.
"Going forward, it doesn’t take away what people of colour experience on a daily basis. This case was helpful in allowing people to see what happens to us around going into a court case fearing miscarriages of justice.”
Derek Chauvin’s conviction has triggered a wave of relief and reflection across the United States and in countries around the world.
US President Joe Biden said Mr Floyd’s death was “a murder in full light of day, and it ripped the blinders off for the whole world” to see systemic racism.
He added: “It’s not enough. We can’t stop here. We’re going to deliver real change and reform.
"We can and we must do more to reduce the likelihood that tragedies like this will ever happen again.”
Mr Floyd, 46, died on May 25 after being arrested on suspicion of passing a counterfeit 20 dollar bill for a pack of cigarettes at a corner market.
Chauvin (45) will return to court in two months when he will be sentenced. He could face up to 40 years in prison.