The case which shook the United States, questioned the practices of American police officers and provoked demonstrations of unprecedented scale across the country during the summer of 2020, had its judicial end on Friday, June 25. Thirteen months after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, Minnesota, former white policeman Derek Chauvin was sentenced to twenty-two and a half years in prison. This exceptionally severe sentence underlines the exceptional nature of this tragedy, both by the conditions in which this 46-year-old African-American father of a family died – on May 25, 2020, the police had kept his knee on his neck for more of nine minutes – only by the impact it had in the United States and around the world.
Dressed in a pearl gray suit, his head shaved and wearing an anti-Covid mask, Mr. Chauvin listened to the sentence without apparent reaction. A few minutes earlier, for the first time since the opening of the trial, he had offered his condolences to the Floyd family in a short sentence.
Unusually, the American president reacted to the announcement of this sentence. “I do not know precisely what circumstances were taken into account, but [la condamnation] seems fair to me “, Joe Biden said at the White House. Usually quick to criticize two-tier justice “One for whites and one for blacks”, the victim’s family lawyer, Ben Crump, also welcomed a ” historic sentence that moves the Floyd family and our nation forward on the road to recovery “. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who led the prosecution against Mr. Chauvin, also said the sentence constituted ” a moment of real recognition of responsibilities on the path to justice “. According to the rules in force in the state, Mr. Chauvin could face a sentence of twelve and a half years in prison. The prosecutor had required thirty years.
Those close to Mr. Floyd, like some anti-racist activists, recalled that this verdict would not be enough to bring about fundamental changes in the country. “I want you to stand up and fight” for more equality, launched Philonese Floyd, one of the brothers of the victim, in court.
Anxious to stand out from the political and social debates on racism and violence of the police institution, which, from the broadcast of the images showing the live death of Mr. Floyd, surrounded this case, Judge Peter Cahill accompanied his decision warnings. He explained that it was not founded ” neither on emotion, nor on sympathy, nor on public opinion ». « It’s not about sending any message He insisted.
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