Update 21/04/21: Celebrities React To The George Floyd Trial Verdict
Almost a year since George Floyd's death, which sparked mass global protests and calls for justice around the world after we witnessed another Black person killed by a white police officer, the criminal trial into the father-of-one's death reached a verdict.
On April 20, a jury in Minneapolis found former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of the murder of Floyd.
The 45-year-old - who was filmed kneeling on Floyd's neck for nine minutes where Floyd repeatedly called out 'I can't breathe' - was found guilty of three charges, second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. Chauvin has not yet been sentenced but according to the BBC, he could be imprisoned for decades.
The verdict was met with relief and jubilation, both in Minneapolis and around the world, as history has shown us on several occasions that police officers rarely face criminal convictions for their actions when a Black person has died in custody. After the verdict was reached, Floyd's brother Philonise said: 'Today we can breathe again', while Floyd's daughter was seen celebrating on the shoulders of a relative shouting, 'Daddy changed the world'.
President Joe Biden said the verdict was a 'giant step towards justice in America', but added there is still work to be done to dismantle systemic racism in the country.
Here's how celebrities, including Beyoncé, the Obamas, Kim Kardashian and Mariah Carey reacted to the breaking news that Derek Chauvin was found guilty of George Floyd's murder:
Barack and Michelle Obama
Kim Kardashian West
Last year, we documented the various celebrity reactions to Floyd's death and the subsequent Black Lives Matter resurgence movement, which you can read below:
Original Story 28/05/20 - 12/06/20: Celebrities React To The Death Of George Floyd
In May, 2021, footage was released online showing Floyd, who was African American, struggling for breath, and crying out, 'I can't breathe' and 'Don't kill me' while a white police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes as other officers stood by.
Floyd, a 46-year-old father, died later in hospital.
The distressing video, which was filmed on Monday in Minneapolis, Minnesota, depicts another incident in a long history of Black people dying during or following encounters with white police officers. The event sparked protests in the city and throughout the US with activist groups, wearing t-shirts and holding signs saying, 'I can't breathe,' calling for an end to police brutality and demanding social justice for Floyd.
In the aftermath of Floyd's death, four policeman were fired and an FBI investigation was ordered, but it has not been enough to quell the tide of anger among the public. People demanded that the officers be charged with murder. The city's mayor said that Floyd's death should not have happened and called for the officers to be arrested. In a press conference, Jacob Frey said: 'We watched as a white officer pressed his knee to the neck of a Black man. For five minutes. This officer failed in the most basic human sense.'
Along with Frey, a whole list of celebrities are angry and heartbroken over Floyd's death called for justice on social media during the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement:
The Grime artist has announced a donation of £10 million to organisations and causes fighting racial inequality, justice reform and promoting black excellence over a 10 year period.
According to The Guardian, the 26-year-old accompanied he and his company Merky's 'lifetime commitment' pledge with the following statement:
The uncomfortable truth that our country continuously fails to recognise and admit is that black people in the UK have been at a constant disadvantage in every aspect of life – simply due to the colour of our skin. I’m lucky enough to be in the position I’m in and I’ve heard people often dismiss the idea of racism existing in Britain by saying, ‘If the country’s so racist how have you become a success?!’ And I reject that with this: I am not the UK’s shining example of what supposedly happens when a black person works hard. There are millions of us. We are not far and few. We have to fight against the odds of a racist system stacked against us and designed for us to fail from before we are even born. Black people have been playing on an uneven field for far too long and this pledge is a continuation in the fight to finally try and even it.
As Black Lives Matter protests continue around the world following the death of George Floyd, celebrities are continuing to speak out, protest and commit to learn more about systemic racism.
Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez
The engaged couple joined Black Lives Matter protests at the weekend with signs which their children helped to make.
Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas
The couple also joined a protest at the weekend.
The boxer gave a speech, engaged in community discussions and marched in his hometown of Watford this weekend.
According to multiple reports, the Friends star has quietly donated almost $1 million to several charities including Colour of Change.
Last week, the actor donated $200,000 to the NAACP legal defence fund, saying in a statement: 'Rights don’t belong to any one group to give to another. Discrimination and impunity cannot be tolerated, explained away or justified. I hope we can come together as Americans to address the deep structural wrongs in our society. I stand with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in their fight for racial equality, social justice, and their call for urgent legislative reform.'
The actor confirmed he is committed to 'listen learn and take action', saying he would be donating to the NAACP, the colour of change organisation, the Equal Justice Initiative and Fair Fight Action.
More celebrities have come out to decry the death of George Floyd - a Black man who died after his neck was knelt on by a white police officer in Minneapolis last week.
As well as sharing their thoughts on social media, celebrity activists have been seen protesting, donating and educating their followers on resources to learn more about systemic and structural racism.
Michael B Jordan
Over the weekend, the Creed actor was seen joining a peaceful protest in Los Angeles.
Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas
The couple were seen joining a Black Lives Matter march in Venice Beach, LA.
The Star Wars actor spoke passionately as he addressed crowds in London for the Black Lives Matter march.
The rapper was seen at a peaceful protest in North Carolina.
The actor has shared videos and pictures from Black Lives Matter marches he's attended over the past few days.
On June 1, BBC News reported that Floyd’s death was declared a homicide in an official post-mortem examination. It listed the cause of death as ‘cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression’. A private post-mortem examination found that the 46-year-old died of asphyxia (lack of oxygen).
The death has led to multiple Black Lives Matter protests around the world as well as widespread anger, condemnation and heartbreak over another black death following an incident with white police officers.
We reported last week (more below) on some of the celebrities who had taken a stance in the wake of Floyd's death and over the weekend, more have come out to pledge donations, join marches, call on lawmakers and support the Black Lives Matter movement.
Here's the update:
The singer-turned-designer has shut down the sales for all three of her Fenty brands in support of the #BlackoutTuesday social media campaign.
In light of the anti-racist protests that have ensued across the world following the death of Floyd, the campaign encourages the public to refrain from sharing personal content for the day and instead educate themselves on the Black Lives Matter movement, increase awareness of black voices, and support Black-owned brands.
‘We ain't buying sh*t!!! and we ain't selling sh*t neither!! gang gang! #BLACKOUTTUESDAY AF!!! [sic],’ the star wrote on Twitter and Instagram, alongside the campaign's adopted image of a black square.
Fenty’s brands include the entrepreneur's cosmetics company Fenty Beauty, lingerie line Savage x Fenty, and LVMH-produced luxury business Fenty.
A statement about Fenty’s decision to cease production and sales, shared on the brands Instagram page, reads: ‘FENTY as a brand was created to elevate beauty, power and freedom! At this very moment racists are attempting to rip those values away from Black people and we will NOT stand by and let that happen. We are too powerful, creative and resilient.
‘In support of the Black community, we will be donating funds to Color of Change and Movement for Black Lives. We ask you to speak up, stand up, and pull up against racism and discrimination in all forms.’
Meghan Markle, Prince Harry and the Queen
The powerful trio have shown their support for the Black Lives Movement by sharing a statement about racial injustices on their Commonwealth Trust Twitter account.
On Monday, they shared a photograph of Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’, and captioned the image:
‘Young people are vital voices in the fight against injustice and racism around the world. As a global community of young leaders we stand together in pursuit of fairness and a better way forward. Silence is not an option. #BlackLivesMatter.’
During her Radio 1 show on Tuesday June 2, the presenter spoke about how Floyd’s death has affected her mental health in a ‘really, really bad way’.
‘As you would have noted, I wasn’t in work yesterday and I want to talk to you directly about why that was,’ she told her listeners.
‘Knowing how the world enjoys Blackness, and seeing what happened to George, we, Black people, get the feeling that people want our culture, but they do not want us. In other words, you want my talent, but you don’t want me,’ she stated.
‘One of my favourite thinkers is a woman called Amanda Seales, and she says this and I feel it deeply, when she says “you cannot enjoy the rhythm and ignore the blues”. And I say that with my chest,’ she added.
'I want to say to our Black listeners, I hope you feel seen and heard today,' she concluded her post. 'And to those of you that already let me know that you are doing the work, to be committed to doing better, I see you, so let’s do this. Let’s all be anti-racist.'
Amfo finished her statement by playing ‘Alright’ by Kendrick Lamar, which has become associated with the Black Lives Movement and opens with the lyrics: ‘All my life I had to fight.’
On June 1, the singer announced that he had donated $500,000 (£398,000) to various causes that are affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Sharing the news on his Instagram page, the 30-year-old encouraged his followers to ‘keep supporting our brothers and sisters out there risking everything to push for actual change for our black lives’.
The ‘Blinded Lights’ singer split his donation between three charities: Black Lives Matter Global Network, Colin Kaepernick‘s Know Your Rights campaign, and the National Bail Out.
The Louis Vuitton designer faced backlash on Monday after he shared a screenshot of the $50 (£39) donation he made to the (F)EMPOWER Community Bond Fund, with many social media users arguing that he should have donated more to important causes following Floyd’s death.
On June 1, Abloh addressed the criticism and shared a statement in which he spoke about his experiences as a black man and his additional $20,500 (£16,327) to bail funds and other causes related to the movement.
‘I can understand your frustration if you think my contributions were limited to $50,’ he explained.
The 33-year-old singer has donated $100,000 (£79,646) to the National Bailout Collective in support of black families during the protests and coronavirus pandemic.
The generous contribution came after Mustafa the Poet addressed Drake and The Weeknd, encouraging them to donate to the important cause.
‘They just called fraud on my card LOL,’ Drake revealed on Twitter. ‘I donated 100k. They were like nah [sic].’
On June 1, the 32-year-old urged her Instagram followers to not be ‘disheartened, hijacked or manipulated right now’.
'George Floyd’s murder has sent shockwaves around the world, there are countless others that haven’t. Protests and marches are happening all over the globe simultaneously and only gaining momentum,' the singer began her caption, which accompanied a photograph of Floyd. ‘So be righteously angered but be focused! Keep listening, keep asking and keep learning!
‘It’s important we don’t get disheartened, hijacked or manipulated right now. This is about systematic racism, this is about police violence and it’s about inequality. And this isn’t only about America! Racism is alive and well everywhere.’
‘I wholeheartedly stand in solidarity with the fight for freedom, liberation and justice.’
The famous former boxer has offered to cover the funeral expenses for Floyd, with TMZ Sports tweeting a picture of a cheque Mayweather is believed to have written for the sum of $88,500 (£70,469).
Mayweather previously paid for the funeral of Genaro Hernandez, his former opponent, and that of the late professional boxer Joe Frazier.
His company Mayweather Promotions confirmed the news on Twitter on June 1.
The actor revealed that he was arrested for protesting peacefully over the weekend in California.
‘We were given the option to leave, and were informed that if we did not retreat, we would be arrested,’ he said of the incident before adding that ‘as a straight white man, and a public figure, the institutional consequences of my detainment are nothing in comparison to others within the movement’.
He concluded his post to say that this is the time to ‘contemplate what it means to stand as an ally’.
‘I’ll speak no more on the subject, as I’m (1) not well versed enough to do so, (2) not the subject of the movement, and (3) uninterested in drawing attention away from the leaders of the #BLM movement. I will be, again, posting the link in my story to a comprehensive document for donations and support,’ he noted.
The actor has written an essay following the death of Floyd calling for ‘systemic change’.
In the essay published by The Daily Beast, he wrote: ‘We need policymakers and politicians that reflect basic fairness to all of their citizens equally. Not leaders that stoke hatred and violence as if the idea of shooting looters could ever be anything less than a racial dog whistle.’
He concluded his essay: ‘So this week, as we’re wondering what it’s going to take to fix these seemingly insurmountable problems, just remember we created these issues so we can fix them. And there is only one way in this country to bring lasting change: Vote.’
Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello
The couple were seen taking part in a peaceful protest in Miami, Florida over the weekend.
The singers were photographed holding handmade signs as they walked down a busy street after posting about the protests and Floyd’s death on social media.
The singer shared a statement on the Black Lives Matter protests that are taking place across the US following Floyd’s death.
‘It’s been hard to find the words to adequately convey how outraged and sad I am,’ she wrote on her Twitter account on June 1.
‘WHITE PEOPLE HAVE HAD IT SO F*CKING WRONG SINCE THE BEGINNING and I will do whatever I can I help break the DISGUSTING, damaging cycle racism and systemic privilege causes. I will not be a bystander [sic].’
After paying tribute to Floyd on her website, Beyoncé recorded a video message on Instagram calling for: 'No more senseless killings of human beings and no more seeing people of colour as less than human.'
Rihanna said she was 'haunted' by Floyd's death, saying the 'magnitude of devastation, anger, sadness I’ve felt has been overwhelming to say the least'.
On Roc Nation's Twitter account, Jay-Z published a statement sharing that he had a conversation with Minnesota's governor and thanked him for calling in an Attorney General to preside over Floyd's death.
The 50-year-old said he is more determined to fight for justice 'more than any fight my would-be oppressors may have'.
The former First Lady said she was 'pained' by the death of Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor - a 26-year-old woman who was shot dead when police raided her home in March.
Obama called on everyone, not just black people to do the 'honest, uncomfortable work' of rooting out racism in society.
'It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own. It ends with justice, compassion, and empathy that manifests in our lives and on our streets.'
The 44th President of the United States shared some personal conversations he'd had over the past few days following Floyd's death.
Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds
On Sunday evening, Lively announced that she and her husband, Reynolds had donated $200,000 (£160,000) to the NAACP's legal defence fund and said the couple were committed to talking to their children honestly about race 'especially our own complicity'.
The singer has used her platform to speak about white privilege, list organisations where people can donate and political ways people can help. The singer also joined protesters in Los Angeles and shared her experiences on Twitter:
The singer was another who took to the streets with legions of protesters:
Chrissy Teigen and John Legend
Teigen shared that the couple will be donating $200,000 to support protesters who have been arrested over the weekend. In particular, Legend noted the three organisations they are supporting: Movement For Black Lives, National Lawyers Guild and The Bail Project.
Hadid lamented the death of Floyd and also used her platform to ask her followers how she can help financially support bail funds of protesters who have been arrested:
The basketball legend condemned the death of Floyd via his team the Charlotte Hornets, saying he was 'deeply saddened, truly pained and plain angry'.
The singer shared a photo of Floyd alongside a tribute on her website.
Kim Kardashian West
Tracee Ellis Ross
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