George Floyd’s brother believes Tuesday's conviction of former police officer Derek Chauvin for murdering Floyd almost a year ago is not only life-changing for his family, but a turning point in the fight for racial justice across the world.
Philonise Floyd spoke with Craig Melvin on TODAY Wednesday following Chauvin's conviction of second- and third-degree murder charges, as well as second-degree manslaughter. Chauvin, who is white, was filmed kneeling on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes as Floyd, who was Black, was handcuffed and lying on the ground last year.
"I always had faith, and I said it over and over again," Floyd said. "I hear 'guilty' and then I heard some more numbers, and I hear 'guilty' again, and I said, 'Lord, please let it be another,' and I hear 'guilty again,' and I was excited.
"It was a pivotal for me, my family, the world. And Gianna, she just don't know that the words that she spoke — 'my dad will change the world' — he really did. He changed the world."
The second-degree murder conviction carries a maximum sentence of 40 years, the third-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 25 years, and the second-degree manslaughter conviction is punishable by up to 10 years.
Floyd hopes that Chauvin's conviction signaled a start of changes in policing and racial relations rather simply than the culmination of his own family's fight for accountability.
"It should be the beginning of this nation figuring out that we all can live with each other, we all should be able to work together," he said.
Floyd said lawmakers should continue the momentum of the conviction by having Congress pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which aims to fight police misconduct, excessive force and racial bias in policing. The bill passed in the House mostly along party lines in March and is now in the Senate.
"We think about the George Floyd Policing Act, that is a bill that needs to be set on higher standards on the ground, that needs to be the top tier because you have so many people who have their blood on that bill," Floyd said.
"You have Breonna Taylor, the no-knock warrant. She was killed, innocent, in her house, sleeping. You have Eric Garner and my brother George, both of them, the no chokehold clause, that needs to be in effect. You have to end qualified immunity. You have to have your dash cams and your body cams on at all times."
He also believed that the verdict may restore some measure of faith in the American judicial system.
"People really believe that we have freedom, and it's freedom for all since justice was served for George," he said.
This also has been a grueling year for Floyd since his brother was killed. He went from working as a truck driver to tirelessly fighting for justice and accountability on behalf of his brother.
"I feel better," he said. "I feel relieved. I actually went to sleep for like five hours last night, and that was great. I wanted to celebrate. I know that's something that I shouldn't have to do, but it was historic.