In George Floyd Square, jubilation and looking ahead

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Minneapolis  

In George Floyd Square on Tuesday afternoon, a Black man who identified himself as “Sam” and his white wife listened to speakers on microphones pump up an elated crowd.  

They had gathered after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted on all three charges in Floyd’s death, a death that triggered worldwide protests. 

“They know ‘Black Lives Matter’,” Sam and his wife chimed in together, looking at their bi-racial son and daughter. 

The couple explained to their kids what they were seeing and hearing as the square swelled with people. 

“They ran up to a picture of George Floyd,” said Sam, “and they noticed that he looked sad and [my daughter]asked me what the words meant, and I told her ‘no justice, no peace,’ and for my kids, that’s actually their rallying cry now.” 

Thrilled by the verdict? Not quite.

“It took this long for people to realize that, y’know, the sky is blue and water is wet. It was overwhelming, but we’ve been here before and haven’t gotten the type of justice we deserved, but I can be happy with this one.” 

It took the jury a surprisingly quick 10 hours to reach a verdict in the trial that was watched around the world. Floyd’s death under Chauvin’s knee was caught on a bystander’s cellphone video for an agonizing nine minutes. 

Outside the courthouse, cheers erupted and passing drivers started blaring their horns after the verdict was announced. 

“It feels incredible, but it also feels unreal because the last few years have been so disappointing,” said Autumn Adkins as she cheered outside the courthouse. “We’ve seen other people go down the same road without no justice. It’s exciting, but it’s also kind of scary to think something could happen. I don’t want to be disappointed!” 

After the excitement outside the downtown courthouse, thousands of people of all races and ages made what felt like a pilgrimage to the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, a few miles south of downtown. It’s here where Floyd died, where a routine police interaction over a counterfeit $20 bill turned into a murder. 

Families with children, couples with dogs and singles on bikes started showing up to catch a glimpse of the blue angel that’s painted on the spot where Floyd died. It’s surrounded by flowers, candles, balloons and teddy bears. 

Overwhelmingly, the people here talked about how the end of the Chauvin trial is just the start of trying get reforms in policing and in society, to prevent future “George Floyds.” One man carried a sign that read, “Police, this does not absolve you.” A woman carried a sign that read, “Kim Potter, you’re next”. Potter is the white police officer who shot and killed a 20-year-old mixed race man, Daunte Wright, while the Chauvin trial was going on, just a few miles from the courthouse.​​​​​​​ 

“I hope [the Chauvin conviction]deters the next officer from rolling into a neighborhood,” said Sam, “and just assuming he can do whatever he wants to people in the community.”

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