'Derek Chauvin's guilty verdict isn't victory, it's accountability'

‘Justice is having George Floyd here today. Accountability is Derek Chauvin being found guilty on all three charges.'

(Image credit: AFP via Getty Images)

‘Justice is having George Floyd here today. Accountability is Derek Chauvin being found guilty on all three charges.'

The world and its approach to race has changed forever this week - and we will not go back.

On 25 May, an unarmed black man died whilst being arrested by police outside a shop in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

In viral video footage taken by a bystander, a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, can be seen kneeling on the 46-year-old’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, whilst pinning him to the ground.

‘I can't breathe...please stop,’ were his last words but the police officer continued to choke him until he lost consciousness. He died in hospital an hour later.

His name was George Floyd - two words that will forever be synonymous with the fight against racism.

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This week, after a three-week trial, a US jury found Derek Chauvin guilty on three charges: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter.

The verdict was announced to hundreds of cheers outside the court, as Ben Crump, the Floyd family's lawyer, called the charge 'a turning point in history'.

'Painfully earned justice has finally arrived,' he announced on Twitter. 'It sends a clear message on the need for accountability of law enforcement.'

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are said to have called George Floyd's family after the verdict, reportedly stating 'at least now there is some justice'.

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But as celebrations erupt across the world for George Floyd's justice, it is important to remember that this isn't victory, this is accountability - and it doesn't happen enough.

The world has been shocked by Chauvin's guilty verdict, and that is the problem.

Few police officers are charged - and even fewer still convicted - for deaths that occur in custody. And many have questioned how the verdict would have been different had the viral video not made it such a public issue.

'Would this have gone to trial if someone hadn't filmed it? Would he have been found guilty without a global movement? How many Derek Chauvins aren't put on trial? How many murders aren't filmed?' posted activist Gina Martin. 'Since Chauvin's trial almost 3 people a day have been killed by law enforcement'.

'Derek Chauvin is where we start', reads a quote circulating social media. 'The whole system is next'.

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In America, a black person is three times more likely to be killed by a police officer than a white person according to the Mapping Police Violence research collaborative, with one in 1000 US black men expected to die at the hands of the police.

And while USA is the focal point, George Floyd’s brutal killing is symbolic of the deeply imbedded systemic racism felt all over the world.

Racism in Britain is a huge issue, with the Brexit vote alone prompting a 57 per cent increase in race-related hate crime.

Our global approach to race needs to be redressed immediately and the international Black Lives Matter protests and riots following Floyd's death are proof that the world is refusing to stay silent any longer.

Derek Chauvin's guilty verdict is a huge step forward but it cannot stop there.

He may have been one police officer, but he is symbolic of a systemic problem and we must use George Floyd's tragic fate as a catalyst for change.

‘Justice is having George Floyd here today,’ announced Dr. Wendy Osefo. ‘Accountability is Derek Chauvin being found guilty on all three charges.

‘We will take accountability, but as a nation let’s strive for justice so no other family has to experience the same pain.’

We have a duty to keep saying George Floyd's name and to fight for accountability and justice for the killings that are not caught on film.

We can and must do better.

Jenny Proudfoot
Features Editor

Jenny Proudfoot is an award-winning journalist, specialising in lifestyle, culture, entertainment, international development and politics. She has worked at Marie Claire UK for seven years, rising from intern to Features Editor and is now the most published Marie Claire writer of all time. She was made a 30 under 30 award-winner last year and named a rising star in journalism by the Professional Publishers Association.