The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Verdict heard around the world: Global reactions to the George Floyd case

People gather at George Floyd Square in Minneapolis on Tuesday after hearing former police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted on all three counts against him. (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)

The conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd resonated globally, with foreign dignitaries and community leaders reacting to a verdict that revived calls for an international reckoning on racial inequality in justice systems around the world.

Chauvin, who is White, was found guilty Tuesday of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Floyd, a Black man he pinned down outside a Minneapolis grocery store last year.

Foreign media outlets ran live coverage, showing how the trial resonated far beyond its national context, and highlighting the outsized role the U.S. racial justice conversation plays internationally, as the rest of the world is forced to grapple with its own race relations.

“I got messages from all over the world — Ghana, London — saying we can’t breathe until you can breathe,” said Floyd’s brother Philonise. “Well, today we are able to breathe again. Justice for George means freedom for all.”

Derek Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that he “was appalled by the death of George Floyd and welcome this verdict,” while the leader of the opposition Labour Party, Keir Starmer, simply wrote: “Justice.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted that the verdict won’t heal the pain of loss for Floyd’s family, “which reverberated around the world.” He said, “the guilty verdict must be the beginning of real change — not the end.”

The ruling made the front pages of several British dailies on Wednesday — including the Times of London and the Daily Telegraph.

“Guilty, Guilty, Guilty,” read the front cover of the Metro, while the Daily Mail asked, “Now can George Floyd verdict bring peace to America’s race turmoil?”

In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomed the verdict but said it “underlines that there’s an awful lot of work to do.

Photos: The reaction after the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial was announced

U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said Wednesday that “the evidence in this case was crystal clear.”

“Any other result would have been a travesty of justice,” she said.

Floyd’s killing in May proved to be a moment of reckoning not only in the United States but also across the world, as protesters took to the streets calling for justice in his case and pointing to what they saw as parallels in their communities. In Japan, crowds last year gathered in Osaka holding signs that read “Black lives matter,” while in Germany, protesters took to the streets of Berlin holding placards that said “White silence is violence” and “I can’t breathe.”

In Britain last year, they chanted for Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old who was shot by police during his attempted arrest in 2011. In France, they said the name Adama Traoré, a 24-year-old who died in police custody in 2016.

Following the verdict, Traoré’s sister posted on Instagram that while justice will never relieve the Floyd family’s pain, the conviction “affirms that his life was not worthless.”

“In France, five years after the death of my brother Adama, we are a long way from all of this,” she wrote.

Foreign news outlets featured prominent coverage of the verdict on their websites, with the Australian Broadcasting Corp. running live coverage and French newspaper Le Monde featuring it at the top of its website.

In Australia, where Floyd’s death last year spurred a resurgence in activism over Indigenous people’s deaths in police custody, the guilty verdict led to fresh calls for authorities to scrutinize more than 400 Aboriginal deaths in custody, along with statements that such a conviction would be unlikely there.

“Even [compared to] somewhere like America that is seen as ground zero for police brutality, Australia is less accountable to the brutality of its prison and police officers,” said Latoya Aroha Rule, who lost a brother, Wayne Fella Morrison, in 2016 after he was pinned down by multiple correctional officers and placed facedown in the back of a prison van, his hands and feet bound with restraints and a spit-hood pulled over his head. An inquest into his death begins next week.

“An outcome like George Floyd’s case is not possible for our case,” said Rule, who helped organize Black Lives Matter rallies in cities across Australia last year. “It took more than a year and a very long history of civil rights advocacy to get to this point, to charge one officer for one murder. But it does only take one injustice sometimes, when people choose to act. I have to remain hopeful this will have some implication in the global racial violence and injustice movement.”

Anger over George Floyd’s killing ripples far beyond the United States

On Twitter, people also pointed to the case of David Dungay Jr., a 26-year-old Aboriginal man who died in similar circumstances in a Sydney correctional facility in 2015 after being restrained by five prison guards in his cell.

Video footage aired at a subsequent inquest showed Dungay telling the guards who were pinning him to his bed “I can’t breathe” at least 12 times. The inquest didn’t recommend disciplinary action against the guards.

People gathered at George Floyd Square in Minneapolis after hearing that former police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted on all three charges against him. (Video: Guy Wagner, Ashleigh Joplin/The Washington Post, Photo: Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)

The effort to connect George Floyd’s death to racial justice issues around the world has faced resistance from some leaders. In Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other conservative lawmakers blamed last year’s protests on fringe groups they said were using the U.S. protests to stoke divisions. Morrison’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment on the verdict.

Protesters in Europe push for a new reckoning of their own countries’ racism

Even as many around the world welcomed the verdict, a top police official in Australia’s most populous state appeared on television and radio decrying a Sydney school for allowing anti-police and Black Lives Matter posters in classrooms, calling it “indoctrination” and maintaining there was no “race problem” in Australia.

“The racist rants … lines about how White lives don’t matter or they matter too much; this is the sort of racism that gets the United States into trouble. It has got no place in Australia,” said David Elliott, the New South Wales police minister.

O’Grady reported from Washington, Pannett from Sydney and Hassan from London.

This report has been updated.