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"Justice Has Been Done" After Derek Chauvin Found Guilty Of George Floyd Murder, Culture Secretary Says

3 min read

The culture secretary Oliver Dowden has welcomed the conviction of former police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, saying "justice has been done".

The cabinet minister said the verdict was "so important" for people who feel the justice system has "not served them in the past".

His comments came after the Minneapolis police officer was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Minnesota on Tuesday.

The murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police officer sparked a wave of Black Lives Matter protests across the world, including in the UK, which saw thousands taking to the streets to call for tougher action to tackle institutional racism.

"Justice has been done. It is so important in situations like this, particularly when people feel the justice system has not served them in the past," Downden told Sky News on Wednesday morning. 

Following Chauvin's conviction, Prime Minister Boris Johnson also welcomed the verdict, saying he had been "appalled" by the death of Floyd last year.

"My thoughts tonight are with George Floyd's family and friends," he tweeted. 

Martin Luther King III, human rights activist and oldest son of the civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King told the BBC's Today programme the verdict gave a "tremendous sense of relief".

"It was like taking a deep, deep breath and being able to release this huge breath. We were all on pins and needles. Now I think what this means is maybe a beginning of a step to really restore some semblance of trust in the American system of justice," he said.

"I want to say begin the process to restore because in some many of these cases nothing has happened, so this feels like the right thing. It feels like it can be setting a tone, but it also feels, and we always know, there is a tremendous amount of work that must still be done."

Speaking on Wednesday, shadow business minister Lucy Powell said she was "relieved and pleased with the verdict" but insisted that further change was needed to reform the justice system, both in the UK and the US.

"We can't take an isolated verdict as change itself. Change will come because of institutional change, cultural change and the way that our system works," she told Sky News.

"And that applies here in the UK just as much as it does in the US. Here, I'm afraid, in the UK, our criminal justice system isn't fair towards those from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds.

She added: "You only have to look at the statistics to know that you are much more likely to be stopped and searched, you are much more likely to be finding yourself facing the harshest sentences and to be found guilty of those.

"It is why we have more than 50% in youth offender institutes are from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds when they make up a much smaller percentage of our population as a whole."

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