Floyd’s uncle says the trial is “ like someone puts their hand in your chest and tears your heart out. ”
Minneapolis, United States – Selwyn Jones lived a quiet life in the small town of Gettysburg, South Dakota. He and his wife run a hotel in the city with a population of 1,300 people. Their daily lives are far removed from the epicenter of the struggle for racial justice against police brutality.
Everything changed on May 25, 2020, when George Floyd was killed after Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin rested his knee on Floyd’s neck for 9.29 seconds, sparking global protests against police brutality.
Selwyn Jones is Floyd’s uncle.
Jones, 54, and his wife, Joie, are in Minneapolis to accompany the trail. On Friday, after the first week of Chauvin’s murder trial, Jones spoke exclusively to Al Jazeera.
“It all sounds like a bad dream,” he said. “You see someone you’ve loved and cherished for 45, 46 years and one day he’s gone.”
Jones said it was difficult to relive Floyd’s death during the trial. “It’s like someone puts their hand in your chest and tears your heart out.”
Jones said it was especially difficult to look at the surveillance camera footage at Cup Foods, the convenience store where Floyd was before he died. The video showed Floyd agitated at times, but other times laughing and playing.
Police were called to the store when it was suspected that Floyd had used a fake $ 20 bill to buy cigarettes.
“When I saw this video of him in the store it’s us laughing, dancing, you know what I’m saying? And to know that he was killed. No, murdered, all for $ 19 and 100 cents. “
‘Angry with the system’
Floyd told Al Jazeera he hopes his nephew’s death could help change the US justice system to be fairer to black men.
“I’m not mad at any specific person now,” he says. “I am angry with the system. So if we can get this [trial] done and get a good conclusion, then we can fix the system. Because we have the opportunity for the first time to fix the system because of the death of my nephew.
Chauvin’s defense attorney said in his opening statements that he would argue that Floyd died not from the strangulation, but rather from drugs found in Floyd’s system at the time of the incident.
While the prosecution admits Floyd struggled with opioid addiction, Jones said the defense using this to blame his death is painful and deceptive.
“There have been a lot of people in this world who have been high before and who haven’t been murdered in the middle of the street like a dog,” Jones said.
“[The defence] tries to murder [Floyd’s] character. It’s a proven fact that Floyd had a problem, he had demons. But his demons did not put him in a position to be killed. He wasn’t fighting, he wasn’t arguing, he wasn’t doing any of those things that would coincide with the murder.
While most legal observers say the prosecution has presented strong evidence so far, Jones said he was not sure Chauvin would be convicted.
“We’ll see,” he said. “I am waiting. I have lived a long time and nothing surprises me anymore. I will continue to wait and hope that things turn out as they are supposed to.