Moments after a Hennepin County jury delivered a triple-guilty verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin, the joy and relief expressed over the convictions also echoed in Greater Memphis.
The New Tri-State Defender reached out to an array of people in pursuit of their reflections about the verdict. Here is a sampling of what we heard:
“Finally, a Black life matters – finally.”
⸺ Pastor Bill Adkins, Greater Imani Cathedral of Faith
“I looked at Chauvin as the verdict was read. I looked into his eyes. And you could tell from the body language that for the first time, he knew that justice was right there about to engulf him.
“He could finally see and hear George Floyd…you could see the spirit of white privilege leave his body. It was a good day for justice, but that little girl still won’t have her father, George Floyd…Today proved that justice is possible in America.”
⸺ Tennessee State Rep. G. A. Hardaway
“This is wonderful. I feel so wonderful. It feels good because at this moment, there is justice in America. I’m feeling marvelous.”
⸺ Frank Gotti, Rap/Hip-Hop Artist
“…Yes, I am thankful that the family of George Floyd received guilty verdicts…but there are many other unarmed Black people who have been murdered at the hands of law enforcement…who will never receive justice…The fact that we had to hold our breath as we waited for the verdict speaks to the cancer of racism that plagues America…”
⸺ Tennessee State Rep. Antonio Parkinson
“Justice was served today with the guilty verdict on all counts in the trial of Derek Chauvin…I am thankful to all of the jury members for their service.”
⸺ Linda Nettles Harris, Tennessee Supreme Court Listed Mediator
“After the verdict was read, I had strong mixed emotions. I know people were celebrating, but I don’t believe in police, first of all. I think the entire system of policing should be abolished and replaced with community-centered and community-based public safety mechanisms…
“Police don’t chase bad guys. They spend their time harassing and over-charging impoverished people…For me, it was not a moment of celebration.”
⸺ Amber Sherman, activist, Black Lives Matter-Memphis
“It’s a sigh of relief and a ray of hope. It appears that justice was rendered today with the entire nation watching. My kids were watching. Our justice system worked today, but it does not always work.
“I remember the trial of George Zimmerman. I think the verdict is a path forward as we look to re-imagine law enforcement, making it into one that truly serves and protects citizens in our community.”
⸺ Van Turner Jr., Shelby County Commissioner; Memphis Branch NAACP President
“The verdict is in. Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all counts… What does this mean? Justice was served in this case. Justice prevailed.
“But the justice we need is bigger than the verdict of this one case… We are not okay. We need much healing from George Floyd’s death and the thousands of others who have died without just cause…
“At the National Civil Rights Museum, we are reminded every day of the need for meaningful protest to bring attention to inhumanity and injustice. Dr. King led many non-violent, but disruptive protests. He refused to be silenced in the wake of injustice… As the nation heard the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial and mourned more police-involved deaths that have occurred during this trial, we are not okay…
“Until we do something constructive about it, with the intention of stopping it, not just talking about it, the deaths and the justification for them will continue. No. We are STILL not okay.”
⸺ The National Civil Rights Museum
“The scales of justice were balanced and resulted in a three-count conviction. And, George Floyd’s family is rejoicing, yet still in grief. Let’s pray for healing of our hearts, our justice system, and our nation. We still have a lot of heart (hard) work to do. Peace and justice should be our ultimate goal.”
⸺ Patrice Robinson, Memphis City Councilmember
“Earlier today I said I was relieved we didn’t have another painful moment. Then, Ma’Kiyah Bryant was killed by police in Ohio who then said ‘Blue Lives Matter’ over her body as it lay in the street. The luxury of relief is not ours.”
⸺ Tami Sawyer, Shelby County Commissioner
“Justice is served…guilty on all counts.”
⸺ Tennessee State Rep. London Lamar
“The world exhaled a deep breath of relief as the jury returned a just verdict, holding Derek Chauvin accountable for the death of George Floyd.
“While this verdict brings some form of justice to the family of George Floyd, both the nation and the state of Tennessee have to realize that there is still much work to do to obtain equal justice in this country, and we should all pledge to work toward making that dream a reality.”
⸺ Rep. Karen Camper, Tennessee House of Representatives Minority Leader