April 23, 2021

Derek Chauvin Trial: Our Participants’ Thoughts

On Tuesday, April 20th, the nation watched as the verdict for the Derek Chauvin trail was announced. On Wednesday afternoon, AFJ’s Executive Director, Angel Rodriguez, along with the AFJ Team, issued a statement on how the Chauvin conviction, guilty on all three charges, represents accountability in the right direction.

Over the past year, AFJ developed online Know Your Rights legal workshops and group sessions to help our participants safely express their views, without the pressure of attending demonstrations which could impact their current legal matters.

Throughout the trial, we made it a priority to ensure that we provided our participants with platforms to express their opinions and digest their feelings on the Derek Chauvin trial.

Here are some notable quotes from our participants during the discussions on the Chauvin trial and the subsequent shooting of 15 year-old Ma'Khia Bryant:

“It’s crazy that it took so long, it’s only right that he was guilty. The whole world was watching, if they didn’t make the right decision, the whole world would have been in the streets.”

“A guilty verdict is not enough, it’s just a drop in the bucket. Guilty? Cool. But is that going to change anything? No. Does it mean something? Yes. Is it the right direction? Who knows? It leaves the world wondering what’s next—and this 15-year-old girl [Columbus, OH, killed by police hours before the verdict] is what’s next. There was no calm to sit in the happy feeling—right back at it, here we are again.”

“With the girl [Columbus, OH], he panicked. She was the one who called the cops, and he didn’t have to do that. What are you doing shooting a little girl? You’re a grown man, break that fight up! You’re a well-trained cop who knows how to disarm people and you’ve never been in a situation where someone had a little weapon?”

“If he’s not guilty, I will be in the streets. I got a 15-year-old little brother, you’re not going to do that to a 15-year-old.”

“I really don’t want to be involved with the cops. I don’t want to ever be in a situation with a bad outcome and for me to be there. I will never call the cops.”

Harlem Court Advocates, Brian & Nina, shared with their participants that it it was really hard for them to watch a trial that seemed so black and white from the onset and not be confident that justice would be served. We know how exhausting this cycle can be for our communities; And we know justice cannot be served with just one conviction. That’s why AFJ remains committed and focused on the work that needs to be done, and we remain hopeful for a future where youth and young adults can live and thrive to their full potential.


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