Will Conviction in Floyd Case Deliver Global Change?

The killing of African American George Floyd in Minneapolis last year sparked Black Lives Matter protests around the world, alongside demands for a reexamination of injustice, racism and colonial history.Now, how will the guilty verdicts rendered this week against Floyd’s murderer — white former police Officer Derek Chauvin — influence those demands for change?Britain was among the first nations outside the United States to witness demonstrations demanding justice for Floyd. Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, a British racial equality activist and author, welcomed Chauvin’s conviction.”What we must do, those who are actively anti-racist, is to continue to push this. This is not a time to be quiet or to think that finally we’ve got a result. No, no, no,” Mos-Shogbamimu said Wednesday.”This does not even begin to deal with healing Black people. It’s a step in the right direction, but we must have real reform. You cannot reform racism. You can’t reform white supremacy. We must eradicate institutional racism. We must eradicate white supremacy. That is what must be done. We must call it out and stop excusing racism in our society.”But how can racism, with its roots in centuries of colonial history, be eradicated?FILE – People take to the streets to march in London, July 11, 2020, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis.In Britain and across Europe, colonial-era statues became the target. In Bristol, a port city in the west of England that made its fortune in the international slave trade, a monument to slave trader Edward Colston was torn down and thrown into the harbor.On the plinth that remains, local Black artist and activist Helen Wilson-Roe replaced the Colston statue with a portrait of Floyd.”Even though this is a victory in America and for Black people and for us in regard to George Floyd, having Derek Chauvin being convicted for the murder of another Black brother, we’ve got a long way to go. And we can’t stop here,” Wilson-Roe said.Marvin Rees was elected Bristol’s mayor in 2016, making Bristol the first major European city to elect a mayor of Black African heritage.”My reaction to the verdict is one of relief overwhelmingly, because it shows there can be accountability for police officers killing people in the United States, and relief because of what could have happened if he was found not guilty,” Rees said Wednesday.”But this image, this narrative around Black men being a threat, and their lives being of less value within the criminal justice system in particular, but in society as a whole, is still with us. And how we get beyond that after being built up after centuries … is a huge challenge for us. And I don’t think there are any easy answers,” he said.It is a challenge for minority communities across Europe.FILE – A man holds a placard reading “George Floyd, Herve Mandundu, Mike Ben Peter and Adama Traore” during a protest against racism and police brutality in Lausanne, France,  June 7, 2020.French citizen Adama Traoré of Malian descent died in French police custody in 2016 at age 24. His family said he suffocated when he was pinned down by officers, though French police strongly deny this. No one has been charged, and investigations are ongoing.Protests erupted across France last year, demanding justice for Floyd and Traoré. Traoré’s sister, Assa Traoré, said there is one key difference between the two deaths.”Clearly, if there had been a video [of Traoré’s death], the situation would have been different,” she said. “There is no video. How many cases are there in France, in the world, where there is no video? What should we do with these dead, these victims?”In South Africa, many Black communities say police brutality is endemic, though not necessarily driven by race. Diversity activist Asanda Ngoasheng said the conviction of Chauvin can have significance beyond the borders of the United States.”Does it mean Black people across the world are no longer going to be killed by policemen or other state apparatus? No. But what it does is it begins to send a message that the color of your skin should not and cannot be a reason for somebody to send you to your death,” she said,Ngoasheng said Floyd’s death resonated in a nation once under apartheid.”Globally, we feel the yoke of white supremacy. We feel the foot on our necks as Black people. And so, when incidents like this happen, they amplify, they remind us that globally, we have a common suffering as people of color in general,” she told VOA.”I’m hoping that as the United States reckons with its history of violence, it’s going to mean less emboldenment of white supremacists in South Africa in particular, and I think globally, as well.”Anita Powell contributed to this report.