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'Happy, But Also Not Happy': Community Reaction Mixed After Chauvin Sentencing

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- One year and one month after George Floyd's life was extinguished, Derek Chauvin is handed a historic 22.5 year sentence.

"Because you raised your voices that is why we got the guilty conviction," said Floyd family attorney Ben Crump.

Though some of George Floyd's family says it's not enough.

"I was hopeful that we were going to get at least 40 years but I don't know just disappointed, just disappointed 22 years? After what happened?" said Mahalia Jones, Floyd's aunt.

"We were served a life sentence we can't get George back. Gianna cant hug George again," said Brandon Williams, Floyd's nephew.

"It was bittersweet. I was expecting a lot more," said Angela Harrelson, Floyd's aunt.

George Floyd's uncle, Selwyn Jones, said he can't believe a former officer was actually convicted in the first place.

"I honestly thought for a brief period of time he was going to get acquitted," he said.

But Floyd is still not here. There's no changing that, and family members say that's what hurts the most.

"We're serving a life sentence not having him in my life, and that hurts me to death," Rodney Floyd, George Floyd's brother, said.

"Times are hard. I have a family. We wake up every day and we don't see my brother. Empty seats all around the house, he would've been here," Philonise Floyd, George Floyd's brother, said.

"I don't think any sentence would be enough because I feel what would truly be justice would be to have George back," Shareeduh Tate, George Floyd's cousin, said.

So is it justice? Is it closure? It depends on who you ask, but the family hopes their struggle forced the world to learn a lesson.

"Your skin color should not define who you are," Philonise Floyd said.

"It's still powerful because people are still helping in the movement and fighting for justice just moving the world and it feels good," Mahalia Jones said.

George Floyd took his last breath at the intersection of 38th Street South and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis. That area now serves as a memorial to his life, and there were mixed reactions from those gathered at the site as former MPD officer Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison Friday afternoon.

A general feeling of peace could be felt around the place, now commonly referred to as George Floyd Square. Dozens of people came out to honor Floyd's life.

They were also listening for the sentencing of Chauvin. Those WCCO spoke with were mixed in their feelings -- 22.5 years for some is considered enough, but for others its not nearly enough.

"My reaction is bittersweet. I'm happy, but also not happy, all in the same breath. I'm happy we are holding people accountable. That's a start," Mileesha Smith, of Minneapolis, said.

All gathered here do believe the courts proved Floyd's life does matter.

"Hopefully Minneapolis can serve as a beacon for the rest of this nation, because you see this spearheaded a national global movement. This is an anointed event," Brandon Rhodes, of Minneapolis, said. "We'll see what goes from here, but I'm praying we can establish a commonality, you know -- community, the word common unity, so we can see how we are more similar than we are different."

Since the sentencing came down more people are making their way to 38th and Chicago, saying the area continues to be a place of healing and community.

Elsewhere, a crowd that was gathered outside Hennepin County Government Center continues demonstrating Friday evening. Dozens of people took the street for a march. Earlier the crowd sat outside the courthouse and listened as a speaker played the sentencing live.

One of the supporters of the Floyd family was Justin Blake. His nephew, Jacob Blake, was shot in Kenosha, Wisconsin last year and was seriously injured.

"They didn't let [Chauvin] go. He's not going home, he's not going to be a police officer, he can't hold a weapon again, he can't harm anybody. So this is a good day," Justin Blake said. "It's not the best thing we wanted, but we got a victory here today, and we need to be able to take victories as we go down this road to give them what we really want."

Justin Blake is planning to spend the evening with Floyd's family and have a meal together as they absorb yet another heavy day.

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