U.S. Muslim groups have welcomed the conviction of former police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year, but have warned that the battle against police violence is far from over.
Chauvin, 45, was filmed kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes during his arrest last May.
The widely watched footage sparked worldwide protests against racism and excessive use of force by police.
Chauvin was found guilty yesterday on three charges: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter.
In response to the verdict, Council on American-Islamic Relations Executive Director Jaylani Hussein said:“We are encouraged by the jury’s decision to convict Derek Chauvin. It is by no means the end of our efforts to build a more just and equitable Minnesota and nation, but it is an important milestone on our journey and a step to healing deep, generational traumas.
“While today’s verdict is encouraging, it does not diminish the urgency with which we must continue our efforts to combat the epidemic of police violence in our communities.
“George Floyd received justice today in that courtroom, now we must continue advocating for justice for all, everywhere: in the legislature, where we’re fighting to pass bills to increase police oversight and end qualified immunity, in our own communities, where we come together to heal and build trust and mutual understanding, and in the streets, where every day we are organising, marching, and strengthening our movement.”
And Farhana Khera, executive director, Muslim Advocates, said: “The whole world saw George Floyd beg for breath, for his mother and finally for mercy before dying as Derek Chauvin’s knee was on his neck. The jury’s guilty verdict is a long-overdue measure of justice for the Floyd family. … Further, we must all take drastic, immediate action to overhaul the law enforcement and justice systems that have allowed this violence to continue for so long.”
Chauvin has been placed in custody and sentencing is likely to happen in two months. He could spend decades in jail.
In Minnesota, second-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. Third-degree murder is punishable by up to 25 years in prison. Second-degree manslaughter is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
However, Chauvin is expected to appeal against the verdict.
Last year a coalition of more than 90 American Muslim community organisations issued a joint statement demanding that the police end discrimination and violence against Black and Muslim people.
The statement demanded that the authorities:
- Prohibit maneuvers that restrict the flow of blood or oxygen to the brain — including neck holds, chokeholds, and similar excessive force
- Prohibit racial profiling, and require robust data collection on police-community encounters and law enforcement activities
- Redirect police funding into community health, education, employment and housing programs.
The statement said: “We recognize that discrimination pervades our entire justice system — from policing to trials to prisons to re-entry barriers for returning citizens — and that these demands only represent a down payment on the reforms that are needed. If this deep-seated discrimination cannot be done away with through reform, then these systems will need to be abolished and reimagined entirely.”