'Justice': America reacts to George Floyd murderer's conviction
On Tuesday sacked Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin was convicted of the murder of George Floyd, a black man who died when the officer knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes last year.
WASHINGTON - Politicians, rights activists and family members and even world leaders reacted with jubilation and relief on Tuesday as sacked Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin was convicted of the murder of George Floyd, a black man who died when the officer knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes last year.
Here are some the immediate reactions following the announcement of the guilty verdicts on all three counts - second degree murder, third degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
US PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN
"Systematic racism is a stain on our nation's soul... No one should be above the law. Today's verdict sends that message. But it's not enough. We can't stop here." - Biden during an evening address to the nation from the White House
"A measure of justice isn't the same as equal justice. This verdict brings us a step closer, and the fact is we still have work to do. We still must reform the system." - Kamala Harris, America's first black vice president, who also spoke from the White House.
"I am feeling tears of joy, so emotional that no family in history ever got this far. We were able to get a guilty charge on all counts. We got a chance to go to trial and we took it all the way. This right here is for everyone that's been in this situation. Everybody." - Floyd's brother, Rodney Floyd
"GUILTY! Painfully earned justice has finally arrived for George Floyd’s family. This verdict is a turning point in history and sends a clear message on the need for accountability of law enforcement. Justice for Black America is justice for all of America!" - Floyd family lawyer Ben Crump
"Today, a jury did the right thing. But true justice requires much more. Michelle and I send our prayers to the Floyd family, and we stand with all those who are committed to guaranteeing every American the full measure of justice that George and so many others have been denied." - former US President Barack Obama
"George Floyd's family and community deserved for his killer to be held accountable. Today, they got that accountability." - former first lady and ex-US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
"The jury made the right decision in convicting Derek Chauvin for murdering George Floyd. His tragic death, and the evidence at the trial, made painfully clear that we must do much better in recruiting, training, and holding law enforcement accountable to the communities they serve. The failure to do so continues to plague America, as we have seen in recent days." - former US President Bill Clinton
"That a family had to lose a son, brother and father; that a teenage girl had to film and post a murder, that millions across the country had to organize and march just for George Floyd to be seen and valued is not justice. And this verdict is not a substitute for policy change." - US Congresswoman and Democratic rising star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
"Chauvin might never see the light of freedom again. That would be just. But it wouldn't be nearly enough. The SYSTEM that let him murder George Floyd must be changed. But for a bystander’s iPhone camera, Chauvin wd’ve gotten away with murder!" - Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe
"The evidence of our eyes met at last by accountability in the eyes of justice" - US voting rights activist and Democrat Stacy Abrams
"While today’s verdict is a step forward in the fight for police accountability and may help heal a grieving community, the systems that allowed a police officer to murder Mr. Floyd, ripping him away from his family and the communities that loved him so much, remain fully intact." - the American Civil Liberties Union
"I was appalled by the death of George Floyd and welcome this verdict. My thoughts tonight are with George Floyd’s family and friends." - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson
OUTSIDE THE COURT HOUSE
A crowd gathered outside the Minneapolis court house to hear a verdict that many feared could plunge the nation into a new spasm of protest and unrest.
When a man with a bullhorn relayed the jury's decision - "Guilty!" - the crowd of 200 people erupted in joy and relief.
"Guilty on all three counts," the man added as the judge read out the jury's verdict inside the heavily guarded building, and tears streamed down more than one face in the crowd. "Today we celebrate justice for our city," he added.
"I can't believe it... guilty," said 28-year-old Lavid Mack, who stood on a concrete block to get a better view of the gathering. He had not thought Chauvin would be found guilty.
A woman stepped out of the crowd, too emotional to speak and fell into the arms of a friend.
Another woman, her eyes brimming with tears, voiced her relief: "Now we can finally start to breathe," said Amber Young.
"This year has been so traumatic, I'm now hoping for some healing," she said.
Fists in the air, a group of a dozen people started chanting, "Black power! Black power!"
In the past week, tensions had been mounting in Minneapolis, which was rocked by massive protests following Floyd's death last year.
Troops from the National Guard had been patrolling the tense city and most of the businesses had boarded up their storefronts just in case unrest broke out again.
The court house itself was surrounded by armoured vehicles, concrete walls and 10-foot high metal fencing, a testament to the sensitivity of the case that ignited the largest protests over race and police brutality in a generation.
The celebrations quickly moved to the south of the city, where more than 1,000 people came together at the street corner where Floyd suffocated to death under Chauvin's knee. There too they raised their fists and chanted the murdered man's name.
Some came in families with young kids and babies in strollers, or with dogs on leashes, and many danced to the rhythm of a group of musicians playing in the street.
Rachel Shield, a 42-year-old white woman, said she had brought her two children to take part in a "historic" moment.
"We felt like it was a really important moment to be present with our community," she said. "There are so few times when we get a real victory in this fight."
"We celebrate tonight and we keep fighting and keep moving forward," she added.
While downtown Minneapolis had been boarded up in anticipation of rioting, shops remained open in this residential neighborhood, which was adorned with mementos of the drama that played out here almost a year ago.
A billboard showed Floyd's image with the logo: "Remember." A metal sculpture of a clenched fist was surrounded by portraits of Ahmaud Arbery, Daunte Wright, Tamir Rice and Breonna Taylor, young black people killed by white police or vigilantes.
Hannan Aboubaker, 28, said Chauvin's conviction had to herald change.
Police "need to come to us with dignity and respect and not prejudice and no bias-ness and treat us the same way they would treat a white person,” she said.