A year later, students reflect on death of George Floyd

May 25, 2021

By Olivia Oliveira
Staff Writer

Today marks the anniversary of George Floyd’s death. Floyd was killed when Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, placed his knee on Floyd’s neck during an arrest for the use of an alleged counterfeit $20 bill.

On April 20, Chauvin was convicted on all charges in the death of George Floyd. Chauvin will face up to 40 years in prison for second-degree murder, up to 25 years for third-degree murder and up to 10 years for second-degree manslaughter. He is scheduled to be sentenced in June.

The trial of the three other former police officers involved in Floyd’s death is set to begin on Aug. 23. The officers will be tried together in the same Hennepin County government building where Chauvin was tried.

The former officers—J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao—would face up to 40 years in prison if convicted for aiding and abetting second-degree unintentional murder. They would receive a maximum of 10 years for aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

Sophomore Cecelia Valdez said she supports the jury’s guilty verdict for Derek Chauvin.

“What he did was outright wrong and a crime. He got what he deserved,” Valdez said.

After the video of George Floyd’s death, which was recorded by 17-year-old Darnella Frazier, went viral, protests erupted, drawing attention to police brutality, racism and injustice. The first protest took place in Minneapolis on May 26, 2020. It was followed by protests in many other cities in the United States and around the globe.

Freshman Maya Wachlaczenko said Frazier’s video was critical in the jury’s decision-making.

“The video is a huge [piece of] evidence which helped with the final verdict,” Wachlaczenko said.

Wachlaczenko said the protests also influenced the outcome of the trial.

“The protests played a large part in the jury’s verdict because a major saying in these movements was ‘no justice no peace,’” Wachlaczenko said. “It was the tipping point for these conversations of dehumanization, protests for equality and overall supporting and figuring out how to help minorities.”

On April 20, Chauvin was convicted on all charges in the death of George Floyd.

Floyd’s death and the protests that followed also brought the Black Lives Matter movement back into national headlines. This movement was created in July 2013, and it began with the use of the #blacklivesmatter on social media after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the February 2012 death of African American teen Trayvon Martin.

Lyndhurst held its own Black Lives Matter protest on June 20, 2020, outside of the Lyndhurst Town Hall.

Sophomore Gabe Gomez said these protests made an impact on people and communities. 

“I think that the protests did a lot in opening people’s eyes in what was really happening,” Gomez said.

Since the video of Floyd’s death went viral, Frazier has also made headlines. Some believe she should have done more during his arrest, while others have come to her defense.

Gomez said when Frazier was recording the video, she probably did not think the situation would escalate to the point of death.

“I see her as a hero more than I would criticize her,” Gomez said. “She honestly [might have] thought that the officer was going to eventually get off rather than killing Floyd,” Gomez said. 

Frazier said in court that the incident has changed her life, and she admitted to sometimes feeling guilty for not physically intervening to save Floyd’s life. She said she has stayed up some nights “apologizing and apologizing” to Floyd for not having done more.

Valdez said Frazier did the right thing based on the circumstances.

“Darnella Frazier is a true hero. At such a young age, she was brave enough to stand up and record Floyd’s horrible death,” said Valdez.

bookmark icon