MINNEAPOLIS (NewsNation Now) — Protests and celebrations broke out across the country after Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts, including murder and manslaughter charges, in the death of George Floyd.
Outside the courthouse, a crowd of several hundred people erupted in cheers when the verdict was announced. Cars honked and chants of “George Floyd” and “All three counts” broke out.
Many people had visible tears as the verdict was announced.
Chris Dixon, a 41-year old Black Minneapolis resident, had tears rolling down his face.
“I was hoping that we would get justice and it looks like we did,” he said. “I’m just very proud of where I live right now.”
Another person said she screamed when she heard the verdict.
“It’s been a long year, it’s been a lot of hurt. Black body trauma is real. Black people in America are hurting. And this was just the first step to doing something different and it’s really really exciting,” said Julianne Jackson.
In a ballroom where the Floyd family was watching the verdict, they jumped and cheered when the verdict was read.
At George Floyd square in Minneapolis, the intersection where Floyd was killed and is now named after him, people screamed, applauded and some threw dollar bills in the air in celebration. The site has since become a rallying point for racial justice protests.
Protesters jumped on and surrounded a semi-truck after it drove near a crowd of people celebrating the guilty verdict.
The jury reached a verdict Tuesday at the murder trial of Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, in the death of George Floyd, the Black man who was pinned to the pavement with a knee on his neck in a case that set off a furious reexamination of racism and policing in the U.S.
The verdict, arrived at after about 10 hours of deliberations over two days, was read Tuesday afternoon in a city on edge against the possibility of more unrest like that that erupted last spring.
“Justice for Black America is justice for all of America,” the Floyd family’s attorney Benjamin Crump said in a statement. “This case is a turning point in American history for accountability of law enforcement and sends a clear message we hope is heard clearly in every city and every state.”
The courthouse was ringed with concrete barriers and razor wire, and thousands of National Guard troops and law enforcement officers were brought in ahead of the verdict. Some businesses boarded up with plywood.
One person outside the courthouse said she started bawling “tears of joy” the moment the verdict was read. She added, “it was a moment I didn’t expect.”
Minneapolis Public schools canceled all athletic and afterschool activities in light of a decision.
Floyd died last May after Chauvin, a 45-year-old now-fired white officer, pinned his knee on or close to the 46-year-old Black man’s neck for about 9 1/2 minutes as Floyd gasped that he couldn’t breathe and onlookers yelled at Chauvin to get off.
The jury, made up of six white people and six Black or multiracial people, weighed charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, with convictions on some, none or all of the charges possible. The most serious charge carries up to 40 years in prison.
The city has been on edge in recent days — not just over the Chauvin case but over the deadly police shooting of a 20-year-old Black man, Daunte Wright, in the nearby Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center on April 11.
Sunday morning, shots were fired at the guard in Minneapolis. The windshield of a Humvee had bullet holes in it and two guardsmen suffered minor injuries.
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker’s office said 125 members of the Illinois National Guard will deploy to Chicago beginning on Tuesday to support the Chicago Police Department as needed.
“At the request of Mayor Lightfoot, I am activating members of the Illinois National Guard to support the city in keeping our communities safe,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “It is critical that those who wish to peacefully protest against the systemic racism and injustice that holds back too many of our communities continue to be able to do so. Members of the Guard and the Illinois State Police will support the City of Chicago’s efforts to protect the rights of peaceful protestors and keep our families safe.”
The city of Portland, Oregon also declared a state of emergency ahead of the verdict.
The Governor of Massachusetts also announced that he would allow up to 1,000 National Guard Troops to be deployed if necessary.
Earlier in the day Tuesday, President Joe Biden weighed in by saying he believes the case is “overwhelming.”
He said that he had spoken to Floyd’s family on Monday and “can only imagine the pressure and anxiety they’re feeling.”
“They’re a good family and they’re calling for peace and tranquility no matter what that verdict is,” Biden said. “I’m praying the verdict is the right verdict. I think it’s overwhelming, in my view. I wouldn’t say that unless the jury was sequestered now.”
The president has repeatedly denounced Floyd’s death but previously stopped short of commenting on the trial itself.
He is expected to speak sometime shortly after the verdict.
Other politicians and ordinary citizens also offered their opinion as the jury was deliberating.
“It shouldn’t be really even questioned whether there will be an acquittal or a verdict that doesn’t meet the scale of the crime that was committed,” Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Democrat, said in Brooklyn Center. The congresswoman said the Chauvin case looks open-and-shut.
Guilty verdicts could mark a turning point in the fight for racial equality, she said.
“We are holding on to one another for support. Hopefully this verdict will come soon and the community will start the process of healing,” Omar said.