Home / Black community in SWFL reacts to Chauvin being found guilty on all charges

Black community in SWFL reacts to Chauvin being found guilty on all charges

Published: Updated:

Jurors decided the fate of former police officer Derek Chauvin. Now, Chauvin has been convicted of second-degree and third-degree murder as well as second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.

This is a decision that could change Black Americans’ views of the criminal justice system.

Lee County’s NAACP president, James Muwakkil, spoke to WINK News immediately after the judge read the jury’s verdict. The first word he said was “justice.”

He says he can finally say that we’re seeing progress for Black Americans and all Americans. To him, it’s an affirmation that the country is headed in the right direction.

“That we are moving in the right direction, that equal protection under the law finally does apply to blacks as it should,” Muwakkil said.

W. Earl Sparrow Jr. is a community advocate. “The precedent has been set. You cannot do as you please with black bodies. You cannot go over and beyond the recommendations of your department without consequences,” said Sparrow.

The jury decision gives hope for community leaders in the region about the justice system for the future, with still so much work to be done.

“This has given us a little bit more hope with knowing this there is justice out there for people of color,” said Jacquelyn McMiller, with Uplift Foundation.

But those we spoke to say the victory is bittersweet. The death of George Floyd was recorded. Community leaders we spoke to say he’d likely be found not guilty if that recording had not existed, and they’d feel differently. It forced them to think about all of the possible instances where no one was around to get it on video.

“That recording will show us the tip of the iceberg of what has been going on for so many years and so many cases that haven’t been documented,” said Chantel Rhodes, with Peaceful Protests of Lee County. “But this was such a gross and blatant act of violence against an unarmed black man that the world could not ignore it. The world could not ignore it.”

They hope this chase and this guilty verdict sparks change, and they hope there will be belief in people of color with or without video proof.

“This is historic,” McMiller said. “This is going to change a lot of people’s lives whether it be positive or negative. But our children and our children’s children are going to remember this day as the day that some justice was served, but they are still fighting for justice across the nation.”

This is a moment Black people will not take for granted because the convictions of police officers are rare.

“Rodney King, with Terrence Crutcher, with Freddie Gray,” Sparrow said. “So many times we’ve got our hopes and dreams up that justice would finally be served, and we turn that corner just to find that not guilty.”

This time is different, Derek Chauvin was found guilty. He’s going to prison for the death of George Floyd.

“This is a Selma-type moment, and even though it was about voting rights, today it’s about police reform,” Muwakkil said.

Tharina Oris is a co-founder of Collier Youth for Black Lives. “I do think it is a very defining moment,” Oris said. “I think there has been like a general kind of awakening.”

Chauvin is facing decades behind bars. However, the judge in this case has already said that California Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ comments encouraging protestors to become more confrontational depending on the verdict are grounds for Chauvin to appeal the verdict.

After the verdict, the judge revoked Chauvin’s bond and ordered him into custody immediately.

The judge also said Chauvin’s sentencing will take place in about eight weeks.