People gathered in George Floyd Square in Minneapolis, Minnesota following the verdict in Saturday’s Derek Chauvin Trial. The former Minneapolis police officer was convicted of all three charges he faced in the death of George Floyd. Brandon Bell / Getty Images hide subtitles
Brandon Bell / Getty Images
Brandon Bell / Getty Images
Scenes of joy and relief erupted across the country after a jury found Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of the murder of George Floyd for the murder.
The jury found Chauvin guilty on all three charges for Floyd’s death in a Last Memorial Day arrest: second and third degree murder and second degree manslaughter.
At the same time, in several cities, the solemn mood was tempered by a feeling that the verdict represented only a low level of accountability in a stronger fight against racial injustice and police violence.
Here’s a look at how people across the country are processing Tuesday’s ruling.
In George Floyd Square – a memorial dedicated to Floyd and the Intersection where Chauvin held the 46-year-old black man for nearly nine and a half minutes – the crowds cheered as soon as the first guilty verdict was pronounced.
When the third count was announced, 39-year-old BJ Wilder fell to his knees and tears ran down his face.
“It’s a new day in America,” he said. “Everyone saw it. But you’re still sitting and thinking back to the days of Rodney King – everyone saw that too – those cops got out.”
“I was really worried, I was worried about my city. Thank god my city won’t burn tonight,” he said. “Finally a little piece of justice.”
Floyd grew up in Houston, where many of his family members still live.
Near a mural dedicated to Floyd in the third borough of town – where he lived with his mother and siblings on a housing project – friends and parishioners were quietly partying, saying they were grateful for the verdict but still mourn it that Floyd was murdered.
People gather at a supermarket in the Houston neighborhood where George Floyd grew up to hear the verdict on Derek Chauvin’s murder trial. David J. Phillip / AP Hide caption
David J. Phillip / AP
David J. Phillip / AP
Near a mural dedicated to Floyd in the third division, Larry Masters, 60, doubted the jury would give a guilty verdict.
“It’s a blessing,” he told Houston Public Media. “Justice was served today. Because this is a long time. They have been doing this for years and years and years. From generation to generation. We have been ripped off, we have been mistreated, I mean, they just got away with crimes.”
Growing up, 46-year-old Kim Hewitt said she knew Floyd. The verdict alone wasn’t enough to ease her calm – she wants the criminal justice system to treat chauvin as she believes it is for the black community.
“I’m not happy until I get it [Chauvin’s prison time]and they put him in the population and treat him like a criminal – as if they consider us in the community to be criminals, “she told the station.
After an emotional year, Hewitt hoped Houston could get together to focus on the issue of police violence.
Amid national calls for police reform, Philadelphia Police Department commissioner Danielle Outlaw is focused on the work ahead.
After Floyd’s death, her department adopted a number of Measures to improve police accountabilityy and to prevent possible cases of excessive use of force.
“As a law enforcement officer, I find the behavior that killed George Floyd abhorrent,” she said in a statement. “Although a verdict was passed today, I ask for your silence. I ask for peace. Let us use this time to reflect on our judicial system, what reforms have taken place and what work still needs to be done.”
Virginia Beach, Va.
Gary McCollum, a local Virginia Beach minister, said he was concerned that Chauvin’s actions would be portrayed as “a bad apple” in the criminal justice system rather than as a systemic problem.
“Chauvin wasn’t a bad apple,” he said. “They have a system that falls victim to marginalized communities and African Americans, and the only reason it was convicted [is] that it was live and people saw it all over the world. “
McCollum said it is time to redefine policing, for example using technology similar to speed cameras to replace traffic stops.
James Allen, 68, another black activist and president of the Virginia Beach Interdenominational Ministers Conference, said he had no doubt that Chauvin would be found guilty.
“Do you know why? Because we saw a man murdered live and in vivid color on national television. That’s the difference. Suddenly all of my white friends were like, ‘James, you’re paranoid,” They can’t say that anymore . “
Rodney Johnson, 65, a Navy veteran, had been taped to television coverage during the three-week trial before leaving for Black Lives Matter Plaza following the verdict. He is not confident that a guilty verdict regarding the problem of police brutality will change significantly. The police have to monitor themselves, he said.
“People think that this racial injustice thing is going to go away – it’s not. Until everyone, everyone learns to love each other.”
Nearby, Sheila Kyarisiima, who joined the crowd with her 2-year-old son, called the result “a glimmer of hope”.
“But it only shows that there is still so much to be done,” she said. “What if there is no camera?”
Sarah McCammon, David Schaper, and Tom Bowman of NPR contributed to this report.