With intense international interest in the US trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, news organisations around the world had been live blogging the proceedings and were quick to reflect the ruling by the jury.
Most reporting focused on two themes: a sense of relief in the US that the jury had delivered a verdict many judged correct and the question over what it meant for the future of the US’s fraught racial relations.
“On Tuesday, the United States closed a transcendental chapter in its racial history, which is this country’s original sin,” wrote El País’s US bureau chief, Amanda Mars. “In a country where police convictions are rare, for many activists this could be a turning point in the long trajectory of police brutality against black people.”
Under the headline “America relieved by historic verdict in the George Floyd case”, the French newspaper Le Monde described the crowd gathered outside the courtroom, eyes fixed to their phones, describing a cheer as the verdict of guilty was delivered. The Times of India reflected a similar sentiment: “Tears of joy, relief after conviction in Floyd murder case”.
For its part, Germany’s mass-market tabloid Bild was blunt: “Killer Cop Guilty!”
ABC’s Javier Ansorena in Spain said the trial had “shaken the country for the past year and once again dragged the world’s oldest and most stable democracy before the mirror of racial inequalities”.
The London freesheet Metro went with a simple three-word headline: “Guilty, Guilty, Guilty,” referring to the three murder and manslaughter counts for which Chauvin was found guilty.
In Sweden, Svenska Dagbladet used the verdict to look forward, quoting the US president, Joe Biden, in its headline: “Joe Biden: The Floyd ruling is a big step forward.”
Meanwhile, the English language website of China’s state-run Global Times relegated the story to a brief headline and single paragraph: “Former US police officer Derek Chauvin found guilty of murder and manslaughter in George Floyd’s death: US media.”
By Wednesday morning Belgium’s Le Soir was leading its site with reaction to the verdict from prominent US figures, including Biden.
Characterising the case, the paper offered this summary: ‘A “turning point in history”, a name that has become “synonymous with justice”, a relief: reactions were pouring in on Tuesday in the US, and around the world, after the verdict that found the American police officer Chauvin guilty of the death of the African-American George Floyd.”
In an analysis piece, the Sydney Morning Herald’s North America correspondent, Matthew Knott, reflected on both the paradox of how obvious the verdict appeared and the anxiety of black Americans that there might still not be justice for Floyd’s murder.
“Events are supposedly always more complicated than they appear on the surface. But nothing that emerged in the intervening 11 months fundamentally undermined the gut reaction millions of people around the world had when they watched the video: Chauvin murdered Floyd in cold blood.
“No one in the US, least of all African Americans, is naive enough to believe the verdict marks an end to racial inequality or police brutality in America. Just last week in Brooklyn Centre, a 25-minute drive from where Floyd was killed, a 20-year old black man was shot dead by a police officer during a traffic stop.
“But the moment is undoubtedly significant.”