The Twin Cities had been bracing for a riot for weeks, but on Tuesday, the crowd outside the Minneapolis courthouse buzzed with surprised and happy relief.
Boards of directors covered the windows of businesses in downtown Minneapolis, and fences topped with accordion wire surrounded the Hennepin County Government Center, which houses the courtroom where the trial was held. But on Tuesday, 12 jurors found former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin guilty of murder, a victory for the supporters of greater police responsibility.
Tyrone Baker, 42, from St Paul’s, standing outside the government building, hadn’t expected a guilty verdict, not really. “But I’m glad it is,” he said. “It’s time.”
Ben Crump, who heads the team of lawyers representing Floyd’s family, said “painfully deserved justice” has finally arrived for them.
“Today’s verdict goes far beyond this city and has important implications for the country and even the world,” he added. “Justice for black America is justice for all of America.”
Philonise Floyd, George floydhis brother, told a press conference that he had hoped and prayed for a guilty verdict. “Today we can breathe again,” he said.
People gathered at George Floyd Square, the intersection where he died, which has become an unofficial memorial to him, and outside the courthouse. The downtown vibe was festive, with people grilling chicken and burgers and handing out homemade chocolate chip cookies.
One organization, Restoration Incorporated, which creates Healing Spaces, offered aromatherapy treatment to people onsite – “because there has been so much trauma and pain,” said founder Connie Rhodes.
A DJ wearing a Black lives matter hat played music on top of a car with speakers in the trunk. Other cars honked, and a man in a Chicago White Sox hat and megaphone shouted, at no one in particular, “We won today!”
At the same time, many people, with or without microphones, spoke of Chauvin’s conviction as a beginning, not an end. People held portraits of Philando Castile, a black man who was shot dead in 2016 in a suburb of Minneapolis by a police officer who was later acquitted.
Baker spoke about former police officer Kim Griffin, who was accused of manslaughter last week after killing 20-year-old Daunte Wright in a Minneapolis suburb. She too has to go to jail, he said.
Minneapolis residents Mohamed Mohmud, 27, and Ali Omar, 26, arrived outside the government center just before the verdict was announced. They wanted to show their support for a conviction and to witness the story in their hometown.
“Our kids are going to ask about this someday,” Omar said. “We don’t mean to say we were at home watching TV.”
Although they expressed their relief at the verdict of the day, other names were on their minds, such as Dolal Idd, a 23-year-old Somali American who was shot and killed by Minneapolis police in December. They also envisioned the month of August, when the three more officers Chauvinist who were present at Floyd’s murder are on trial. They were accused of aiding and abetting the murder.
“What happened today was incredible, but the other three cops who allowed it. . . something has to happen to them too, ”Mohmud said. “Derek Chauvin cannot be a sacrificial lamb for the entire Minneapolis Police Department.”
Nor can the verdict change their daily reality. The men said they would always worry about traffic stops: a routine for most white Americans, but for young black and brown men embroiled in the threat of violence.
“We are terrified every time we are stopped,” Mohmud said.
But change is coming, community organizer Toussaint Morrison, an activist, told the crowd shortly before the protesters left the city. It will take more protests, including at the homes of officials, but it will happen, he said.
When people protested outside the home of Pete Orput, the chief prosecutor in charge of the Griffin case, “you saw white people come out of houses with their fists raised,” Morrison said. “Because culture is changing. Responsibility arrives. “
Minneapolis resident Ashley Flanigan, 29, said Floyd’s death opened her eyes to racial injustice.
“George Floyd did not die in vain,” she said. “I hope this is a step to get people moving in the right direction.”