TOs George Floyd’s girlfriend was waiting for a verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the police officer accused of murdering Floyd, one of the journalists around her asked what it meant to her to be present outside the Minneapolis courthouse.
Courteney Ross, 45, who had given emotional testimony about her and Floyd’s struggles with opioid addiction, was candid: Court “was not a comfortable place for many of us.”
“Many of us have a lot of negative experiences with the government,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of bad encounters here.”
But that was the point of her being in court, Ross said: “I think it’s time we show what this building is supposed to be about, and it’s supposed to be about justice.”
“He has to come back with that guilty verdict,” Ross said, “so we can start believing again.”
Ross, who wore a cloth mask printed with a picture of Floyd’s face, waited outside court Tuesday shoulder to shoulder with Toshira Garraway, a black woman whose fiancé, Justin Teigen, was found dead in a recycling truck in 2009 after to flee. of the St Paul Police.
A guilty verdict in Floyd’s case would be just the beginning, Garraway said: There were hundreds more victims of police violence in Minnesota. “We need to reopen these cases and [get] justice for the rest of these families, ”he said.
“We also want to increase the charges of the Daunte Wright killer,” Ross added.
Ross, a former educator, had been one of Wright’s teachers at Edison High School. Wright, a 20-year-old black father, was shot and killed by a white police officer in a suburb of Minneapolis on April 11, while jurors in Floyd’s murder trial were still hearing testimony.
In the final weeks of Chauvin’s trial, National Guard troops patrolled downtown Minneapolis, government buildings were protected behind layers of security fences, and local businesses boarded up.
TThe security measures reflected the low expectations of justice for Americans by the criminal justice system of their country. Many simply did not believe that a jury would convict a white police officer for killing a black man, even if the murder was brutal and widely condemned and captured on video shared around the world. If Chauvin was acquitted or convicted of murder alone, authorities clearly expected Minneapolis to erupt again, a repeat of last summer’s furious national uprisings against police violence.
But after weeks of anxiety across the country, the Chauvin trial jury made a quick decision. By early afternoon of their first full day of deliberations, they had reached a verdict. Hundreds of journalists, activists and passersby filled the park in front of the fortified courthouse.
When the news that the verdict was about to be read spread through the crowd, many people turned to the courthouse, confused about which direction to take.
The decision came to them on their phones. “Guilty!” people started screaming. “Yes Yes!” People cheered. People were crying. In a few moments, a new chant began: “All three count! All three count! “
“I can’t believe we got this verdict,” said Mike Griffin, a Minneapolis organizer with advocacy group Community Change.
“We are going to celebrate tonight, I will make it completely clear,” he added. “And tomorrow we go back to work.”
In the center of a crowd of reporters in the minutes after the verdict, Floyd’s girlfriend Ross said a prayer of thanks, the sound of cars honking in celebration echoing behind her, a drone buzzing overhead.
“Thank God for giving us this moment,” Ross said. “We needed it. This city needed him. “
“His spirit is here with all of you,” he said of Floyd.
There were so many other police families killing victims that they still needed justice, he said. “Floyd was a man,” he said. “George Floyd is a movement”.
But it was okay to appreciate this moment, he said. “Take this evening to rejoice to have a day of victory,” he said. “This battle is going to continue.”
“Hug a stranger!” he yelled, and then corrected himself, laughing and crying. “Oh no, we are in an epidemic. I am sorry.”
The crowd in front of the courthouse began to move onto the street, ready to march.
Activists had repeatedly reminded the crowd in the moments leading up to the verdict that their movement had to continue, whatever the outcome of the Floyd case was.
Daunte Wright’s brother was in the crowd. “Everyone save the same energy that you saved for George Floyd for that man,” said Frank Nitty, an activist from Wisconsin.
“We get justice for George Floyd, and tomorrow they will try to kill another one of us,” Nitty said.
Later Tuesday, authorities in Columbus, Ohio, said police officers shot and killed a 15-year-old girl in an encounter that occurred moments before the verdict was read in Floyd’s trial.
But on the street, for a few minutes after a verdict, the pain mixed with something else. In a city full of government troops, people, against all expectations, were staging a victory march.
“This is a warning to all murderous cops: we are going to get you!” someone called. Young people danced in the street, chanting: “Black lives matter!”
“I am very excited and full of joy,” said Janiya Edwards, 18. The timing of the verdict felt like a holiday, he said.
“For the last year, I had lost hope. I didn’t think they were going to convict him, ”he said.
Now, he added, “I feel a little more confidence in the judicial system.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism