It doesn’t end the pain, but there is at least some satisfaction.
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Exactly one year and a month since he murdered George Floyd, Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin has been sentenced to 22 and a half years for the crime that sparked unrest and protests around the world calling for radical reform to law enforcement and how society approaches racism.
Before the sentence was announced, family members spoke to the court demanding the maximum sentence. “One thing we can never get back is George Floyd,” his nephew Brandon Williams told the court. “It is the request of my family that the maximum penalty for the crime for which the defendant was convicted be imposed.” George Floyd’s daughter Gianna Floyd, who spoke first, read a victim impact statement and when asked what she would say to her father if she could speak to him right now, Gianna replies, “I miss you and I love him.” When one of Floyd’s brother Terrance spoke, he reminded the court that his death wasn’t isolated with no consequences outside of that moment and Chauvin going to jail. Pausing only to compose himself, he also addressed Chauvin directly asking him, “What were you thinking? What was going through your head when you had your knee on my brother’s neck?” His other brother Philonise Floyd, who also had to pause because he was overwhelmed with grief, spoke of how the loss of his brother impacted him. “I haven’t had a real night’s sleep because of the nightmares I constantly have hearing my brother beg and plead for his life over and over,” he said. “Gianna..needs closure. My family and I have been given a life sentence. We will never be able to get George back.”
Speaking for her family, Derek Chauvin’s mother Carolyn Pawlenty spoke similarly as she asked the court for leniency, saying as they sentence her son they will also be sentencing her. She also said it was hard for her to hear what the media and others have said about her son. “The public will never know the loving and caring man he is that his family knows,” she said. She never addressed the Floyd family in her remarks.
Chauvin addressed the court to say that he is not able to give a full formal statement due to other legal matters, a possible reference to the federal charges he and the other three officers face for the violation of Floyd’s civil rights. He did however gave his condolences to Floyd family saying other information will be coming that he says will give some peace of mind. Earlier in the day his defense requested a new trial which was denied.
The day before sentencing, the neo-fascist group Patriot Front vandalized the memorials to George Floyd that were erected in Brooklyn, NY and Newark, NJ, and this came just two weeks after the same group reportedly vandalized a mural dedicated to Floyd in Philadelphia. Founded as a group that splintered from Vanguard America just after the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017, the hate group is known for taggings and stickers across the country as well as masked flash mobs in various locations, the last one being in Nashville, Tennessee that produced diminished numbers from past outings. Community members took notice of how the group cowardly vandalized the monuments under cover of darkness, but despite that, license plate and video stills of those responsible for the vandalism in Brooklyn were being shared on Twitter. In September, the antifascist Torch Network leaked internal communications from Patriot Front from well over a year.
On April 20, Chauvin was convicted of two counts of murder and one count of manslaughter in Floyd’s death. The trials for the other officers involved, J Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, will commence in August. On March 12, just before the Chauvin trial began, the Minneapolis city council approved a settlement of $27 million to the Floyd family following a wrongful death lawsuit.