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Philonise Floyd And Attorney Ben Crump Reflect On Chauvin Verdict


Philonise Floyd wore a tan striped suit to the Minneapolis courtroom yesterday. When he arrived, he sat and gazed downward, hands clasped over his face. He prayed, his thumbs digging into his forehead even as the judge read the jury's verdict that former officer Derek Chauvin was indeed guilty of murdering his older brother, George Floyd. Philonise shook back and forth and emerged weeping, hugging all four prosecutors. Afterward, he told a reporter, I was just praying they would find him guilty. As an African American, we usually never get justice. Philonise Floyd joins us now, along with the Floyd family attorney, Ben Crump.

Thank you both for being here.

BEN CRUMP: Thank you.


SHAPIRO: Mr. Floyd, if I could start with you. One day after the verdict, the immediacy has worn off. How are you feeling right now?

FLOYD: I'm still on cloud nine. This is something that you can't take away from people, period - people of color. The things that's going on in this world right now, everybody is extremely happy because this is the land of the free. And of course, people didn't feel that we were free until everybody's seen justice for George because justice for George means freedom for all right now.

SHAPIRO: Well, many people are saying true justice would be having him with us, and yet this guilty verdict is still some measure of comfort. I mean, how do you balance those two feelings?

FLOYD: Yeah, because, you know, the officers there have been held accountable, but I think about my brother every day. And I wish I could hug him, but I know that I'll never be able to see him again. And it's going to be a long journey, and I have to push forward because I don't want there to be anymore George Floyds. It seems like this is a never-ending cycle. We're in the court of law, and Daunte Wright is murder 10 miles away in Minneapolis. It's horrifying just to understand that people are killing other human beings, and I hope not because of the shade of their skin.

SHAPIRO: And so to speak to that sense of a never-ending cycle, Mr. Crump, you represent families of Black people who were killed by police, including some who have not seen justice - Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and others. Why do you think the verdict went in your favor this time, that this time there was some measure of justice?

CRUMP: I think George Floyd's case was unique in the sense that you had Darnella, a 17-year-old high school student, capture George Floyd literally being tortured to death by Officer Derek Chauvin by putting his knee on his neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds, where the bystanders were begging, begging and pleading with him, please take your knee off his neck. And they refused to do so. And I think everybody who saw that video, you cannot unsee that video once you see it. It galvanized people not only across America, but all across the globe who saw that video. And I think that was very important to getting the guilty verdict.

SHAPIRO: And so in light of that, is this case an outlier? Is it the exception or is it the beginning of something new?

CRUMP: We are praying that it is a new precedent that will be set to be able to have all Americans be included when we say with liberty and justice for all. And so we pray that those marginalized minorities, especially Black people in America, will be able to look at the fact that you have - Daunte Wright. They are filing charges quicker than we ever seen them. Andre Hill, Columbus, Ohio - filing charges quicker than we've ever seen them. Ahmaud Arbery - filing charges. So we hope there's a new precedent. Now, whether they will be convicted or not remains to be seen.

SHAPIRO: You're saying there's a new precedent for filing charges, but as you point out, these killings just don't stop. Just yesterday, a teenage girl in Columbus, Ohio, was killed by a police officer. How do you reconcile the measure of justice that you have seen in George Floyd's case with the fact that these killings continue?

CRUMP: Well, I think you look at each case individually on the merits because you want to get transparency and accountability because that equals justice and trust in some regards. And so I think we got to be able to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Accountability Act because we have to change this culture and behavior of police where they shoot first and ask questions later when it's Black people.

SHAPIRO: Are you hearing from your other clients today who maybe feel differently in light of yesterday's verdict?

CRUMP: All the clients have been very congratulatory to George Floyd's family, and they are very happy and proud that there was justice achieved, some measure of justice, because, as Philonise often says, justice for George Floyd is an opportunity for freedom for all. And they want to believe that in Breonna Taylor's case, that the Department of Justice is going to open up an investigation and that will give her family some measure of justice. Pamela Turner, they have an upcoming criminal trial that the Floyd family is going to attend. And so on May 13, on the two-year anniversary of Pam Turner, we're going to have a march for Black women in Baytown, Texas. And so I think a rising tide raises all ships. The fact that George Floyd got the historic guilty verdict is inspiring people in all of these tragedies.

SHAPIRO: Mr. Floyd, could you speak to this? There's this large and growing community of families of people who have experienced tragedy, who've died at the hands of police. And you are the rare member of that group who has seen a guilty verdict.

FLOYD: It's a lot of pain that I'm going through, the same pain that they went through - agony. Some people never even get a chance in court. But through me, I'm going to speak up for them because the times that I have seen people get out and they never get justice - like Pamela Turner, Eric Garner, Ahmaud Arbery - it's so many people that we need to help. But I'm happy that Merrick Garland...

SHAPIRO: The attorney general.

FLOYD: Yeah. He's going to look into what Minneapolis has going on because it's too many people that are passed (ph) for nothing. Nobody wants to be a part of this fraternity. And if we can push the George Floyd Policing Act to help end disqualified immunity, to make these officers human, they are the law, but they are not above the law.

SHAPIRO: I know that your brother's death has changed your path in life. Can you talk about where that path leads for you now?

FLOYD: Oh, that path leads to helping others, counseling others. Like I said once before, it seems like this is a never-ending cycle. And I have started the Philonise and Keeta Floyd Institution for Social Change. We're turning our pain into purpose. We need to help these young people who are the next generation. I have so many different causes (ph) on it, meaning, like, from youth enrichment to human trafficking. It's a lot of things - mental illnesses. We're going to speak up on a lot of things. So I didn't even know that I had a platform, but knowing that I have one from other individuals, I will use it to make this world a better place to live in.

SHAPIRO: Philonise Floyd is the brother of the late George Floyd, and attorney Ben Crump represents the family.

Thank you both for speaking with us today.

CRUMP: Thank you.

FLOYD: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ari Shapiro has been one of the hosts of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine, since 2015. During his first two years on the program, listenership to All Things Considered grew at an unprecedented rate, with more people tuning in during a typical quarter-hour than any other program on the radio.
Carol Klinger