Youngstown leaders: Chauvin verdict is ‘get up name’ for cops


“To be honest, I’m so glad to see the world changing right before my eyes in real time,” said Ty’onna Powell, who organized a June march in downtown Warren after the murder of George Floyd.

YOUNGSTOWN – Tuesday’s picture of convicted killer Derek Chauvin being led out of a Minnesota courtroom in handcuffs was meant to be a “wake up call” for police officers who unfairly abuse those they have sworn to protect while “behind you.” Hide badge ”said Tuesday.

The news that a jury said George Floyd was murdered on May 25 by a former Minneapolis police officer was a relief to Youngstown’s black leaders – a reminder that the entire community is still fighting for change.

It took the jury 10 hours to find the 45-year-old chauvin guilty of all three counts in Floyd’s death, including second and third degree murder charges and second degree manslaughter charges. Chauvin faces up to 40 years in prison for second degree murder.

“I’m sure there is great relief, but there are still these families who are grieving over the loss of loved ones or who are still afraid of what might happen to their loved ones in the future,” Mayor Jamael Tito Brown told Brown after the verdict Mahoning Matters.

‘No Justice, No Peace’

Prosecutors argued that Chauvin caused Floyd’s death by kneeling on his neck for 9½ minutes. In a viral video of the incident, Floyd is repeatedly heard telling officials he cannot breathe and calling for his mother.

When it comes to police deaths of blacks, people at all levels seek police accountability, Brown said.

Hundreds flooded downtown Youngstown On the Sunday after Floyd’s death, some sang “Black Lives Matter” and “No Justice, No Peace”.

Attorney General Dave Yost, the state’s chief attorney, said in a statement that Chauvin “dishonored” the badge, a factor that should “weigh heavily” in his conviction.

“What Derek Chauvin did to George Floyd is murder,” said Yost. “He killed more than one man – he almost killed hope for justice. The jury called it murder and restored that hope. “

Brown said he thinks Chauvin’s belief will help stabilize public confidence in the judicial system.

“I think the jury was on the right side,” he said, referring to the jury’s brief reflection as a sign that the verdict was clear.

After the judicial system watched preferential treatment for the police officers who killed Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, and others, the verdict was a turning point, said Rev. Lewis Macklin, Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church pastor and chaplain Youngstown Police Department.

“That’s why people literally held their breath because we didn’t know what the end result would be,” said Macklin. “We’ve been to this peak before and we got so close and couldn’t prosecute. They said, ‘No, there’s more to history than what you’ve seen’.”

For Chauvin’s trial, “we had nine minutes and 29 seconds telling us otherwise,” he said.

Macklin added that he was grateful the pre-funeral verdict of Daunte Wright, the 20-year-old black man who was shot and killed by police during a traffic obstruction at Brooklyn Center, 10 miles from Derek Chauvin’s trial.

The funeral will take place on Thursday at the New Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Minneapolis.

Chauvin’s trial was both a local and a national narrative to seek justice, Brown said.

“It can’t just be” one and the same “,” he said. “It has to be consistent.”

District Councilor Samantha Turner, 3rd Ward, said the Floyd case was sending this message, “‘We need change now.”

Turner hopes Chauvin’s murder conviction shows that one can no longer hide behind a badge, unjustly protect and treat people sworn to protect, and think one can go home at night.

“No question [Chauvin] exceeded his power and authority. I hope this is a wake-up call for any officer who feels they have the right to treat people – especially people with color – like this. That’s who gets the brunt of it.

“I don’t want more of my people to be killed. We don’t want more people to lose their lives. “

Prior to Tuesday’s ruling, Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene said many aspects of policing and police training “need to be changed. … We can always improve. “

Greene noted ongoing efforts to improve training on personal bias, the shift from more body cameras to officers, and efforts to rethink uses of violence like chokeholds.

Turner said although George Floyd’s family received justice Tuesday, there are many other families who haven’t – and will, until the nation as a whole addresses racism as a systemic problem.

City Councilor Julius Oliver, District 1, said this ruling sent a message for the first time to police officers who killed unarmed black, brown and in some cases white people.

“Hopefully this just brings a second thought to law enforcement officers who would do such things that there are consequences for the abuse of your power and the lives of innocent people whom you have sworn to protect,” said Oliver.

“I see no regrets”

When Macklin watched Chauvin’s face as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill read the jury’s decision, he was reminded of the painful video of Floyd’s murder.

“The same arrogance I saw in the nine and a half minutes with his knee on this man’s neck was reflected in his conviction,” said Macklin. “It’s not a stoic poker face.” It was a feeling of, “I’m spot on and what I did I would do again,” almost.

“And that’s worrying because I don’t see any remorse. I don’t see any remorse. I see, ‘It is what it is and you have to accept it. Well.’ And that in and of itself is unsettling. ”

While the news of the verdict met with relief, Chauvin’s public punishment cannot change him. And the outcome of the trial doesn’t erase the tragedy of Floyd’s death, local and state leaders said. It also does not address inherent inequalities in policing.

“His life was taken for no reason,” said State Representative Erica Crawley of Columbus, D-26. “He was murdered.

“Such situations are too common and traumatic for communities. We see other people who are not colored people deal with the police. Your results are not the same. You will not be murdered. You don’t die by law enforcement. We want the same for our church. We don’t want them to die. Nobody should die from an alleged fake $ 20 bill. ”

For Bryant Youngblood, assistant director of the Youngstown Academy for Urban Explorers, it is impossible to celebrate the verdict without realizing the losses at the center.

“Everyone loses in one sentence,” he said. “We still lost a life. Even to Mr. Chauvin and his family, they are losing a loved one. You want to be happy because justice served, but you also need to consider that you lost a family member yourself. “

Despite seeing an unrepentant chauvin, Macklin said he was “grateful that the process worked itself and that it received a fair and impartial trial. And he was on trial, not George Floyd. I think this is crucial and shouldn’t get lost in the conversation. “

“A Shift in Time”

Protests blossomed in cities around the world last summer in response to Floyd’s murder.

The demand for police accountability was loud and inevitable to the extent that Youngblood believes: “We are part of a time difference, a complete enlightenment of the people, of the mentality.

“I firmly believe that we will see some of the changes that are to come,” he said.

The question is simple, Crawley said: “We want the system to be self-correcting and fair to all, regardless of race, creed, ethnicity, or gender. It should be fair across the board. When officials violate their policies, duties and people’s constitutional rights, they must be held accountable, and we must demand that. “

Chauvin’s verdict did not surprise Youngstown attorney David Betras. The whole world saw the viral video of Floyd’s murder. recorded by teenager Darnella Frazier.

Juries – and people more generally – react strongly to visual evidence, Betras said.

“You just have to look at the tape … when you see things like that, it’s hard not to let it move you,” he said. “There was a lot of evidence there.”

On a practical level, Macklin hopes the verdict is a sign that the police body camera footage – which was included as evidence in the trial – will continue to play a role in bringing bad cops to justice.

“It shouldn’t require cameras to be received to get justice,” Macklin said. “But of course it is. … I think what is going to happen is that people are going to start rolling down the footage. In this day and age when cameras are so readily available and prominent, everyone will be thinking about what they are doing. “

Ty’onna Powell, a 20-year-old Warren whose community organizing group was coordinated by We Matter a June march of 1,500 people in downtown Warren After Floyd’s death, she felt nervous leading up to the verdict – but after that, she felt encouraged to keep fighting for change.

“I put it in the hands of faith and it turned out that way,” Powell said. “To be honest, I’m so happy to see the world change in real time right before my eyes.”


Mahoning Matters reporter Jess Hardin, Justin Dennis and Ellen Wagner contributed to this report.