Duluth ‘Black Lives Matter’ Protesters March Celebrating Chauvin Guilty Verdict

“I didn't really expect us to come out on top based on our past,” said Veronica Davis, one of the organizers.

DULUTH, Minn.- For perhaps the first time in the year since George Floyd was killed, a Black Lives Matter protest through the streets of Duluth was filled with hope and celebration, after the jury convicted Derek Chauvin of murdering Floyd Tuesday.

“I didn’t really expect us to come out on top based on our past,” said Veronica Davis, one of the organizers.

Many of the 50 protesters said upon hearing the verdict, emotions ran high. “I immediately started crying. I held my friend,” Taysha Martineau, a Fond Du Lac Band Member said.

Many in Tuesday’s crowd also marched on the first day of the trial weeks ago, calling for justice — now here again for the last day. “The words just felt different coming out when we got what we wanted in the end,” Davis said.

“It felt like, yes, like, we probably won’t have to say this for much longer,” she said.

“Shock” and “surprise” were the common words among the crowd, at hearing the judge read “guilty” for each charge of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

“Surprised, happy, some disbelief,” said Henry Banks.

Banks, an activist in Duluth for many years, said he could not believe the jury found the former police officer guilty – and more importantly he said, held him accountable for his use of force.

“The accountability piece far and away the best thing that I’ve seen since I’ve lived in Minnesota with regard to how people, especially the police, treat Black, Indigenous, People of Color,” said Banks.

An outcome he said was owed in large part to the young woman who filmed Floyd’s lethal encounter with Chauvin.

“I think what made it different was that the world was watching,” Banks said.

The roughly 50 protesters marched from the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial through Superior Street downtown, the I-35 Bridge, then into Canal Park and back again.

They say the march wasn’t just for George Floyd, but for other people of color who have lost their lives from police encounters. “The fight’s not over yet,” said Martineau.

“We still need to continue showing up, uplifting the black community, and crying out for justice for young men like Daunte Wright, Philando Castile, Adam Toledo, the fight’s not over yet,” she said.

The group ended sitting in silence for the more than nine minutes Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck.

“We have to heal; we have to process all of this because this really is just the start of things,” Banks said.

Many children were also among those marching, their parents hoping they remember this day. “This is very important for the children to see this,” said Davis.

“They need to see the good, the bad and the ugly, and they also need to be able to celebrate with us when we have something like this happen,” she said.

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