Sheffielders share mix of emotions following George Floyd guilty verdict

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Sheffielders have shared both joy and sadness following news of the George Floyd verdict – many are hoping it is a ‘turning point’ for policing in America and institutional racism everywhere.

On April 20 2021, in Minnesota, jurors found former police officer, Derek Chauvin, guilty of all charges over George Floyd s death.

It has taken 11 months to reach the verdict and although many in Sheffield are happy to hear such news, many are also feeling a mix of emotions.

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Matilda* said: “Almost a year it took for us to get here and a historical moment it is, but it is important to remember that a man had to get murdered to reach this point. There was video footage clearly showing what happened to George Floyd and worldwide protests, and it took all that to be noticed.

A demonstration as part of the Black Lives Matter movement was held at Devonshire Green in Sheffield in June 2020. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)A demonstration as part of the Black Lives Matter movement was held at Devonshire Green in Sheffield in June 2020. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)
A demonstration as part of the Black Lives Matter movement was held at Devonshire Green in Sheffield in June 2020. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

“There are many more George Floyd’s - we just don’t hear about it much. Perhaps now, or I hope, that White people will now take more notice of what is actually going on.

“We don’t hear about all the stories because of institutional racism in the media, in the police, everywhere.

“We should be happy that a guilty verdict has been reached but that isn’t justice, it is accountability for just one man’s murder.”

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Sheffield Green Party agreed that the verdict is a ‘step towards justice for George Floyd’, and Sheffield’s branch of Stand Up To Racism stated that although justice was being served, it was ‘not enough’ to save his life.

Stand Up To Racism, which operates in cities across the UK, told how it welcomed Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict but it also reminded people that police racism is not unique to the US.

The campaign group said on Twitter: “The fact that no police officer in Britain has ever been charged, let alone convicted, for deaths of black people in police custody is a product of institutional racism.

“This verdict would not have been possible without the Black Lives Matter movement. It shows the power of protest and the importance of opposing the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

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“This verdict comes hours after the British government defended its internationally criticised CRED report. After examining policing, health, education and employment, the report concluded that it found no evidence of institutional racism.

“This flies in the face of all evidence. Contrary to Kemi Badenoch’s earlier statement to the House of Commons, this is denying the existence of institutional racism. Achieving such justice in Britain means rejecting this report.”

Many individuals feel that there is ‘still some way to go’ in addressing institutional racism in the UK.

The United Nations experts condemned the Government’s Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report published last month, which denied that institutional racism existed in the UK.

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In other news, this week a report found that Amnesty International - a UK-based human rights organisation - has a culture of white privilege.

Sheffield is one city that is beginning to tackle such issues, as the council launched the independent Race Equality Commission in 2020, focusing on the nature, extent, causes and impacts of racism and race inequality within the city.

*Names have been changed.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.

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