SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– Everyone’s eyes were glued to the television as the verdict of former Officer Derek Chauvin was read on Tuesday, April 20, 2021.
A jury convicted Chauvin on all charges in the death of George Floyd. Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.
“I think I just realized I was holding in breath and I just sighed,” said Imari Stout, founder of Southwest Missouri Black Lives Matter. “Unfortunately, George Floyd wasn’t the first person whose last words were ‘I can’t breathe.’ It has felt like we couldn’t breathe and we’ve watched people die and that be their last words. So, it is ironic, in a lot of ways, that there’s this collective sigh now.”
However, Stout says this is only a step in the right direction to rid the world of racial injustice.
“It’s just this sigh of relief that we weren’t taking another step backward,” said Stout. “Relief that there’s been accountability for once.”
“I think, sometimes, we think one thing means that everything has been resolved,” said Dr. Lyle Foster. “Usually, that’s not the case, but I think that certainly means something is changing.”
Dr. Foster is a community entrepreneur and he says he wasn’t surprised by the verdict.
“I really wasn’t surprised. I felt like there was such compelling evidence. In some ways, I do think this is a milestone, because, let’s just be candid, this has not always been the resolution from similar cases or cases in the past.”
However, one Missouri State University student says she doesn’t think the guilty verdict was enough.
“I’m glad that something happened, but I still don’t think justice was fully served,” said Nakaja Weaber. “I see it as a step in the right direction, but it’s also just, still heartbreaking at the same time.”
“Just since the trial started, March 29, we’ve seen over 60 deaths, 60 killings by police,” said Stout. ” We are seeing modern-day lynching’s where people are deciding to play judge, jury, and executioner and take someone’s life. It doesn’t mean that the mourning stops. It doesn’t mean that we’re not still in the trenches, but it means there’s this glimmer of hope that we might be headed in the right direction.”
Missouri State University students spoke to KOLR10 and expressed their opinions on if they believed justice was served for George Floyd.
The Springfield NAACP released this statement in regards to the verdict:
Justice has prevailed. The guilty verdicts in the George Floyd murder case are certainly a step in the right direction.
We will stay vigilant and will continue to fight for justice, accountability, and police reform.
Within our own community, we continue our commitment to working with Chief Williams on equity in policing.
We further invite our state representatives to demonstrate a commitment to equal justice under the law for all Missourians and to officially end qualified immunity.
We agree with Derek Johnson, President and CEO of the national NAACP, who said that the right to breathe was on trial.
We will not rest until we all have that same right to breathe and until we all can experience justice with peace.