The Current

Chauvin verdict seen as 'victory' for Black community, but academic calls it an anomaly

An American journalist says the conviction of a former Minneapolis police officer in George Floyd’s death is a step forward for the country, but that “there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

Former Minneapolis police officer convicted Tuesday in killing of George Floyd

Two women embrace in front of a mural of George Floyd following the guilty verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin on Tuesday in Atlanta, Ga. (Elijah Nouvelage/AFP/Getty Images)

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An American journalist says the conviction of a former Minneapolis police officer in George Floyd's death is a step forward for the country, but that "there's still a lot of work to be done."

"Every single person who I talked to, they said that this was a weight lifted. They said that this definitely was a victory for the Black community and for America," said Georgia Fort, who reported on the trial for Racial Reckoning: The Arc of Justice, a journalism initiative focused on covering Floyd's case and the community response.

"And although we had a moment to take a breath, tomorrow we're right back at it," she told The Current's Matt Galloway, referencing Thursday's funeral for Daunte Wright, who was killed during a traffic stop last week.

Derek Chauvin, a white former police officer, was convicted Tuesday of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Floyd, who was Black. Chauvin is expected to be sentenced in eight weeks.

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Law professor David Schultz discusses what the judge will consider when sentencing former police officer Derek Chauvin who was convicted of three charges for George Floyd’s death. 1:20

Floyd, 46, died last May after Chauvin pressed his knee on Floyd's neck and back for more than nine minutes, while two other officers restrained him. Floyd had been detained outside a convenience store on suspicion of paying with a counterfeit bill.

His death, which was captured on video footage that went viral, sparked protests around the world.

In a statement posted to Twitter on Tuesday night, Minneapolis police Chief Medaria Arradondo said he respected the jury's decision, and wished the Floyd family peace and comfort as they heal.

Arradondo also urged people to remain peaceful following the verdict, saying, "We need calm, safety and peace in our communities, now and in the days to come."

Fort said many people awaiting the verdict were "overwhelmed with joy" that Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts.

But during those celebrations, a seven-year-old boy reminded her that a Black teenage girl was fatally shot in Ohio on the same day.

Bodycam footage of the incident showed a police officer shooting the girl as she appeared to attempt to stab two people with a knife. Investigators are looking into whether or not it was a case of police following state laws that allow them to use deadly force to protect themselves or others.

'What happens in the next case?': professor

Ricky L. Jones, professor and chair of pan-African studies at the University of Louisville, in Kentucky, called the verdict in Chauvin's trial an "anomalous event." 

The idea that the case is a turning point for the United States is "overpromising where we are on the racial landscape of the country," he told Galloway.

He argued that even though Floyd's death was caught on camera, there was doubt about what would happen to Derek Chauvin.

People raise their fists and hold a portrait of Floyd during a rally following Tuesday's guilty verdict in Chauvin's trial. (Elijah Nouvelage/AFP/Getty Images)

"My question is, you know, when Black people are killed again … what happens in the next case?" Jones said. 

Until the U.S. faces up to its history and talks about race, there won't be equality in the country, he added.

"My daughter just turned 13, and I'm hoping that we have a world in which she can enter into with more decency, humanity and equality," said Jones.

"I don't know any single event that will make me feel that way, but I'm hoping that we'll get there before … I leave this earth."

Written by Kirsten Fenn, with files from CBC News. Produced by Joana Draghici, Samira Mohyeddin and Kate Cornick.

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