Students React to Derek Chauvin Trial

Jurors remained quiet as the verdict was read…

Derek Chauvin was found guilty in the death of George Floyd, a Black man whose killing in police custody last May was captured on video that set off a summer of unrest over law enforcement’s treatment of the Black community.

Several student organizations, including the Black Student Union and FAU NOW,  went to twitter to share the hashtag, #justicehasbeenserved.

    Alani Valdez, a sophomore Elementary education major said, “It was emotional to watch . I was happy but still skeptical. I’m glad that accountability was taken but justice is still yet to be served.”

Chauvin, wearing a gray suit, darted his eyes left and right over his light blue surgical mask when the judge ruled that he was found guilty of all three charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. He nodded, stood up quickly, then was taken out of the courtroom in handcuffs and placed in the custody of the Hennepin County sheriff.

People gathered outside the Minneapolis courthouse and around the country to brace themselves for unrest if Chauvin had been found not guilty. The verdict came as both a relief and surprise to people, politicians, and police in Minnesota and beyond. Black-law enforcement leaders said the conviction was an emotional moment. The scene outside turned festive while several hundred people erupted in cheers, chanting, “All three counts,” when the verdict was announced.

Some however, felt different about the decision. Rachel Mayzack, a junior geography major at FAU, said “Yeah, I’m happy about it but how long is the shadow of justice going to last? Will this be the outcome every time another black person is killed by the hands of police?” 

Freshman Film & English major, Alyssa Quarrie said, “It feels like this endless cycle of black people dying, people catching wind of it, having protests and riots, then having their faces and names all over Instagram infographics until people forget about it like it was a summer trend. Until people realize that it’s not a trend, I don’t think we’ll see real change.”

Expected to be relieved but more skeptic, David Bynes, who works in the Center for Inclusion, Diversity, Education, and Advocacy (IDEAs), shared his initial thoughts after hearing about the news of the verdict. 

“I was walking cautiously around what this really means because I’m thinking about what will happen when sentence three hits,” said Bynes.

Bynes says that it’s too premature to call this justice, but instead, it’s a step towards accountability.  

“We can’t call this justice when there’s still so much work to do. We can’t equate change for progress when there was a young lady fatally shot by an officer moments before the trial was ended,” said Bynes, referring to Makiyah Bryant, a 16-year-old Black girl who was killed on the same day as the verdict in George Floyd’s case was announced in Ohio.

 When asked how this event will affect our country in the long run, Bynes is hopeful, but unsure. 

“I think we can be on the path for change but it would totally depend on the people. If we continue to go on the same route from what we saw last summer, I think we have the ability to be on the path…There’s been a lot of rhetoric but now we need some concrete evidence. ⦗Chauvin⦘ was just one officer. We need to look at policing as a system. There’s still more work to be done before we’re at the place where we make progress.”

Under Minnesota sentencing guidelines, Chauvin faces 12 ½ years in prison for his murder conviction as a first-time criminal offender. Prosecutors could possibly seek a longer sentence of up to 40 years if Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill, who presided over the trial, determines that there were “aggravating factors.”

“Today history was made,” Floyd’s family attorney Benjamin Crump said after the verdict. “We are finally as a country starting to live up to the promise of equal justice under the law for all people … It was sacrificial blood that made this moment possible for the history of America.”

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