As Bridgett Floyd watched the three guilty verdicts, called one after another, at the end of Derek Chauvin’s murder trial this week, she thought of her beloved older brother George Floyd.
“All I could do was scream and jump,” he told The Guardian. “You know. It was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders.”
When Chauvin, the former white Minneapolis police officer who held his knee to George Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds, was handcuffed and removed from court, she calmly recalls how it felt to watch.
“Do you want my honest opinion?” he said in his first print interview since Tuesday’s landmark verdict. “I wanted them to put those handcuffs on his arm as tight as he had those handcuffs on my brother, so that I can feel how my brother feels, to have some handcuffs on your arms … grip tighter and tighter and tighter as that you move.
“An officer arresting an officer. We have almost seen it, or have never seen it. Not even anything like that. “
Bridgett Floyd, George Floyd’s younger sister, was unable to be in Minneapolis when the guilty verdict was read. She had seen riots in the city during the previous week, following the police shooting of a 20-year-old. Daunte wright, who was killed in a suburb of the city during the trial, and decided to stay away. Instead, he traveled to a family member’s home in North Carolina and watched live on television with his two sons as the jury’s decision was read out in front of the world.
He described the verdict as a “big step” for racial justice, but acknowledged that the huge inequalities and racism in America’s criminal justice system cannot be solved with a single case. She said the decision was a vindication for families in countless other fatal police force cases against black Americans that never went to trial.
“That is a very big step that [the jury] took yesterday. But that’s the right way to do things. This is how things are supposed to be done. And he shouldn’t have taken an officer on a man’s neck, my brother’s neck, for nine minutes and 29 seconds to get them convicted. That’s ridiculous. But I will say that it is a step forward. And we are not going to give up. We are going to continue fighting ”.
Observing the court proceedings brought unimaginable trauma to the Floyd family. Bridgett was present for parts of the trial, including the opening, but never saw video of her brother’s death.
“It was very difficult for me to see the trial, because that was the evidence [the video] they kept doing, “he said on Zoom a day after the verdict. “Many times I had to mute the television, turn it off, leave the courtroom or leave the family room.
“I can’t seem to process hearing my brother asking for help like that. I am not prepared for that. As much as I want to see it. As bad as I want to see. Mentally, I’m not ready. “
He had spent part of his time during the trial distracting himself as a volunteer at local food delivery points in Minneapolis as well as continue her work as founder of the George Floyd Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit civil rights and social justice organization.
But upon hearing defense arguments, where one expert witness described Chauvin’s use of fatal force as objectively reasonable, where another witness suggested that Floyd might have been killed by exhaust fumes, and where an arrest was raised in 2019 essentially to bring the character of George Floyd into question, it was especially difficult.
“It was very degrading,” he said of the defense case. “How dare you… we all knew the truth. It made me very angry, of course. He was speaking to the television aloud when those statements and comments were made. “
Bridgett Floyd became a national civil rights figure after her brother’s murder in May 2020, she addressed thousands during a rally to commemorate the March on Washington in August last year and has made powerful speeches in memory of George Floyd when the trial began.
Following the verdict, he demanded that Republicans in the U.S. Senate vote to enact the George Floyd Police Justice Act, sweeping legislative reform that many hope can help bring about broader change among America’s 18,000 police departments.
The legislation has been voted on through the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, but is likely to face staunch opposition in the Senate, where Democrats and Republicans each have 50 seats. On Wednesday, Joe Biden urged Congress to pass the legislation.
“My message to them [Senate Republicans] is doing the right thing. Officers have had their way for too long. They are supposed to protect and serve our country and yet every two days you see killings, not just shootings, killings by the police force. “
Bridgett Floyd said she had a message for politicians in Washington: “It could be your loved one who is attacked by the police one day. And you could have been the one who made that change. And you overlooked it, like it was nothing … Let’s do the right thing, while we have the opportunity in front of our eyes, let’s do the right thing and hold these cops accountable for their actions. “
Chauvin’s murder trial saw many of the bystanders who saw George Floyd’s death give vivid and powerful testimony. Some, including teenage girl Darnella Frazier, who videotaped Floyd’s death, voiced the survivor’s guilt on the stand.
“They have been nights in which I have stayed up apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not interacting physically and not saving his life,” she told the court during the first week of the trial. “But it’s not what he should have done, it’s what he [Chauvin] I should have.”
Bridgett Floyd also sent a direct message to Frazier, who is now 18 years old: “What she doesn’t understand or what she doesn’t know about me is that that video, that one video – she takes time out of her day to record – got us justice, got us a guilty verdict. “
With the trial over, Floyd has more room to think about his brother’s legacy and what his life and death meant to the world.
“I want you to remember him as the person he was, that he was a loving, generous, kind and gentle giant. He didn’t want to hurt anyone, ”he said.
“I am going to keep his name alive by running this foundation, the George Floyd Memorial Foundation… Because that’s what they will remember, his name is what they will never forget. And I will continue to be the change, I will be the legacy and I will be their voice ”.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism