Floyd verdict sparks hope, inspiration for activists abroad

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Assa Traore whose brother Adama died in the custody of French police in 2016, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press about the guilty verdict in the United States for the former police officer charged with killing George Floyd, in Ivry-sur-Seine, on the outskirts of Paris, Wednesday, April 21, 2021. Traore hailed what she described as the courage of the US justice system for hearing the pain of Floyds family. The death of her brother, Adama, wasnt filmed, and its cause has been fiercely disputed. Traore has moved to the forefront of a new movement in France to wipe out what many believe to be systemic racism in policing, fight for Black rights and to challenge Frances official vision of itself as a colorblind society. (AP Photo/Lewis Joly)

PARIS – The guilty verdict in the trial over George Floyd's death was not just celebrated in America. It signaled hope for those seeking racial justice and fighting police brutality on the other side of the Atlantic and beyond, where Black Lives Matter has also become a rallying cry.

But the fight is far from over, activists, victims' families and others in Europe, South Africa and elsewhere said Wednesday.

A Minneapolis jury found ex-police officer Derek Chauvin guilty Tuesday on all counts of murder and manslaughter in the May death of Floyd, whose final words, “I can't breathe,” reverberated across the world.

“The name of George Floyd today brings this hope ... of a country that listens to its people,” said Assa Traore, a leading voice among those in France denouncing alleged police brutality and urging racial justice for the nation's large Black and North African population.

Traore, who spoke in an interview with The Associated Press, has been seeking justice since the 2016 death of her younger brother, who died in police custody after a chase. The death was not filmed and its cause has been fiercely disputed. Assa Traore led a massive Black Lives Matter protest in Paris following Floyd's death last May.

Acclaimed British author Alex Wheatle, who grew up in a children’s care home and was jailed at 18 for taking part in the 1981 Brixton race riots, said the news brought hope at a time when the U.K. is still “in denial” about systemic racism.

“For decades there’s been a long struggle here trying to exact some kind of justice, and we’ve never been satisfied with that justice,” he told the AP. “I just hope that this new attention really focuses the minds of those in charge in this country.”

Wheatle’s life story was recently dramatized in director Steve McQueen’s “Small Axe” anthology, about London’s West Indian community.