“My heart’s full today,” George Floyd’s uncle, Selwyn Jones, told the Argus Leader moments after the jury in the trial of Derek Chauvin announced the former police officer involved in Floyd’s death was guilty on all three charges.
“Hallelujah,” Jones said. “Something had to be done.”
Chauvin was convicted on second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges after kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes in Minneapolis last May.
Chauvin faces between 12-1/2 years or 150 months in prison for a first-time offender, but the state is seeking an increase due to “aggravating factors” that could increase the maximum sentence.
Jones said he had been watching the verdict roll out in Minneapolis on Monday and Tuesday, and has been splitting time between the Twin Cities and his home in Gettysburg, South Dakota, where he owns and operates a motel.
Jones was very close with Floyd and visited him at his home in Minneapolis often. He recalls Floyd texted him on his birthday, May 22, just three days before his nephew died outside of Cup Foods at the intersection of 38th and Chicago in Minneapolis. He remembers that was the last communication they shared together.
‘I’m still sad’
It doesn’t matter whether Chauvin would have testified in his own defense, Jones said, because all the evidence was there in Darnella Frazier’s bystander video of the incident.
A large part of the defense’s argument was that Floyd died because of his pre-existing conditions, or that drug use may have played a part in Floyd’s death.
Hearing that argument “just rips my heart out to the core,” Jones said. “When you’re trying to assassinate a man that saved a $20 bill … it changed the whole world on its axis.”
Knowing that very few officers face charges, convictions or prison time in cases like Chauvin’s, Jones said he knows that what happened to his nephew means progress will continue to be made in the future.
But, “I’m still sad,” Jones said, because at the end of the day, “there’s no nephew, there’s no daddy, there’s no uncle, there’s no brother. We’ve lost all of that, but we’ve got an opportunity because of him to make a lot of change in this world.”
Chauvin ‘had to pay for killing my nephew’
The people who have been “battling” for change in the last year since Floyd’s death should not stop trying to make change, Jones said.
“Everybody did the right thing so we can take the momentum that he gave us to change the world,” Jones said. “Let’s ride this thing, man. Let’s ride this out.”
The crowd in Minneapolis and around the world showing up in support of the verdict’s decision should “rejoice,” Jones said, but he asks that protestors not become violent.
“We got what we wanted with the guilty party,” Jones said. “Everyone should rejoice, laugh, be kind, be gentle, be free, but do not tear up anything because that will make it look ugly on us.”
People should have empathy for each other, Jones said, because his nephew “gave us a real chance to fight back.”
“Before now, we haven’t had a chance to fight back,” he said. “We’ve been going through the same thing every day.”
Jones is “still going to be teary-eyed” to the day he dies, he said, but “at least I know that this son of a gun had to pay for killing my nephew.”