Minneapolis was still erecting barricades outside the courthouse where Derek Chauvin was being tried when the news came: There was a verdict.
After deliberating for just ten hours after absorbing three weeks of grueling details about George Floyd’s death, the jury told the judge it was done — the jurors had not even asked him a question. Their speed seemed to surprise everyone, such as the hundreds of demonstrators who had already gathered outside the Hennepin County Government Center, where the trial was conducted.
The crowd was waiting on edge, making speeches and issuing chants. Then someone said the judge was about to read the verdict and the crowd went completely quiet.
One woman held her phone out, cupping its tiny speaker in her hand, with people gathering around to hear a livestream of the court. At 4:06 p.m., the judge began:
“Members of the jury, I will now read the verdicts as they will appear on the permanent records of the Fourth Judicial District. State of Minnesota, County of Hennepin, District Court, Fourth Judicial District. State of Minnesota, plaintiff, versus Derek Michael—”
The audio cut out. The woman fumbled with her phone.
“Guilty!!!” a bullhorn crackled behind her.
The group erupted in cheers, screams, chants, and cries. Grace Larson and three of her friends hugged each other and fell to the ground.
“I feel like a little bit of justice has been served on a long, long, long road. It’s not just about George Floyd, but this gives me hope, this gives me hope, this gives me hope,” said Nelson, who has been protesting since Floyd was murdered and again last week after Daunte Wright was killed by police ten miles away.
The crowd rushed into nearby streets as music blasted from every direction and Black Lives Matter flags flew from poles. Some jumped on top of cars. Others stayed put, grilling like they were at a family reunion.
“I feel amazing,” said Abdirahman Warsame, who was dressed from mask to toe in Black Lives Matter attire. Warsame is observing Ramadan but said he felt it necessary to be demonstrating. “I haven’t ate in like 12 hours. I’m fasting and I’m still here.”
For Warsame, the trial was personal: He was good friends with Dolal Idd, who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer five months ago — the city’s first police killing after Floyd.
“We see stuff like this happen every day with Daunte Wright, we’re so desensitized and you see everybody around here — everywhere you go, you see people standing for justice, so this is a step towards it. It’s not going to happen overnight,” Warsame said.
Many of the protesters echoed him: The work doesn’t stop, and the protest must continue to go on until the system changes. Larson wasn’t standing still.
“I’m going to George Floyd Square,“ she said.