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Local demonstration organizers, legal experts react to Chauvin verdict

George Floyd Officer Trial
Posted at 5:06 AM, Apr 21, 2021

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — The killing of George Floyd impacted all corners of the country, including Florida.

After a jury found former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Floyd, some are calling the verdict a sign of hope and justice.

“It shows us we are now moving in the right direction,” said Elijah McGill.

Last June, McGill organized a peaceful march and protest in Clearwater calling for change in the wake of Floyd’s death. On Tuesday, he listened as the verdict was read.

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“Initially I sat back and I was reminded of the words of Dr. King. He said out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope has come. And for me I felt just those words resonate through me,” McGill said. “This is no way, in no shape the solution. This is in no way, no shape gonna end police brutality but this right here is a stone of hope that pushes us all in the right direction.”

Donald Jones, a professor of law at the University of Miami School of Law, said this is a “glimmer of hope.”

“I want to believe that what this means is that finally, we’ve turned a corner of history, that finally we’ve turned a page and we’re able to look at this person not as a Black man but as a human being. And no longer to say that a policeman, because he wears a blue uniform, is immune to accountability,” Jones said.

Jones explained the decision the jury had to reach in coming to their verdict, calling it a case complicated by race, class and narratives.

“There are many things the jury had to see through. The stereotyping, statement that there were these other possible causes and it’s not a question of whether other possible causes, the question was whether there was substantial cause. The jury I think found that, they found the intent to kill, they found the truth,” said Jones.

Next, there will be sentencing.

“He has a maximum of 40 years that he can get but they have sentencing guidelines there. Most of the sentencing guidelines they deal with really deal with the idea of your past conduct. Your past criminal conduct. Things in your past that would aggravate the sentence,” said attorney Jeff Swartz.