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'Where do we go from here?' Real change following the conviction of Derek Chauvin

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Posted at 9:50 PM, Apr 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-21 23:15:56-04

CLEVELAND — The world watched in anticipation awaiting a verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted Tuesday of killing George Floyd last May.

As conversations continue to boil over nationwide about policing in America, News 5 spoke to parents, religious leaders and legal experts about what comes next.

“That one conviction is not enough. It's not enough,” Tricia Ouermi said. “Brown and black people are running around in fear. I am terrified of the fact that my daughter gets called out of her name at school and mistreated.”

Anguish, anxiety and exhaustion are just three words on the vast spectrum of emotion that people of color in Ohio said they felt while waiting to hear Chauvin’s fate.

“The verdict is a victory, but the fight is just now beginning,” Bishop Prince J. Moultry said. “After all these years, this officer was held accountable for murder because of his reckless behavior.”

Legal experts were uneasy about some portions of court proceedings.

“You heard them say in closings, ‘This isn't about policing. This isn’t anti-police. This is about one bad person.’ The problem with that narrative is that it completely ignores the systemic issues that exist within policing,” Ayesha Bell Hardaway said. “There was a chance that because Mr. Floyd was black and that this was a white police officer, that he could go unpunished and be found not guilty. That created some nervous energy.”

So where do we go from here?

“There wasn't a relief in the sense where there was justice done. Mr. Floyd isn't coming back,” Ouermi said. “There's really no justice in the taking of one's life. The way I look at it, there was no justification for his life to be taken, especially in that way.”

Ouermi is a Cleveland native raising a young, black daughter. For her child’s sake, Ouermi hopes change is on the horizon.

“I believe that in that aspect there was a victory, but I don't feel like it was enough. This is a lot of brown and black people. This is their daily life,” Ouermi said. “What would you do? What would you feel like? A lot of people don't want to put themselves in that position because it hurts too much. Grace and mercy is needed in these times and love. I think that the Floyd family definitely showed grace. They showed mercy. They showed love.”

Moultry said holding those in power accountable is the first step in achieving authentic change.

“It's the way of looking out for the other guy, even when you know glory to God, the other guy is wrong,” Moultry said. “We've got to have our videos ready. We've got to get involved as a community. We've got to be persistent.”

Yvonka Hall of the Black Health Coalition said more rigorous de-escalation training is needed among law enforcement and funding must increase for mental health services.

“Yesterday was a justice served for all of the generational trauma that we've experienced. But now as we move forward, how do we make sure that the justice is not only in the courtroom but in all of the policing standards? This emotionless taking of black lives and not looking at us as humans has to stop,” Hall said. “We cannot continue to live like this. We cannot continue to live in two separate policing systems in one America.”

Ohioans said they’ve waited hundreds of years for equality and nearly a year for justice in the death of George Floyd.

“How many voices, how much footage, all of those things had to happen before this one conviction happened?” Ouermi said.

Collectively, they said they don’t want to wait any longer.

“With this trial being broadcast so, so widely and people paying so much attention, folks are starting to ask more questions about policing,” Hardaway said. “The onus has to be on our elected and appointed officials to do the things that they are put into office to do. It cannot be on the backs of black people who are traumatized.”