Nervous crowds awaiting a verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin erupted in jubilation on Tuesday (local time) after the jury found the former Minneapolis police officer guilty of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd during an arrest last May.
Throngs gathered in George Floyd square, around the intersection where Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died with his neck pinned to the street under Chauvin's knee, screamed, cheered and applauded at the news of the guilty verdict.
The square has become a place of pilgrimage and protest since Floyd's death made him the face of a national movement against racial injustice and police brutality. Protests against his killing swept the United States and the world last year in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
"It's not Chauvin on trial. It's America on trial," Marcia Howard, one of the volunteers who oversees barricades and tributes in the square, said tearfully.
A 12-member jury found Chauvin, 45, guilty of all three charges against him - second and third-degree murder and manslaughter - after deliberating for just over 10 hours in a trial that encompassed three weeks of testimony from 45 witnesses. Chauvin was quickly led away from the courtroom in handcuffs after the verdict was read.
The reaction of crowds assembled outside Hennepin County Government Center, the building where the trial was held, was also ebullient.
Tears rolled down the face of Chris Dixon, a 41-year-old Black Minneapolis resident, as he took the verdict in.
"I was hoping that we would get justice, and it looks like we did," said Dixon, a director of athletic diversity and inclusion at Augsburg University. "I'm just very proud of where I live right now."
Social media reported spontaneous cheering on the streets and motorists honking their horns in a number of major US cities, including Washington and New York City.