Civil rights

Civil Rights Organizations, Leaders Discuss Future After Derek Chauvin Verdict

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A day after the guilty verdicts in the Derek Chauvin murder trial, community activists are looking at what needs to happen next and brainstorming proposals for the future.

Akia S. Callum is used to being on the frontlines demanding change with other N.A.A.C.P. members. While former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all charges, Callum believes this is a small step in the right direction, but more work has to be done.

"I was relieved when I heard the verdict, it was like a breath of fresh air, but there was still that pause or hesitation," said Callum. "There hasn't been a stop in police violence, like the killing of George Floyd has not stopped anything else and we saw that with the killing of another young child in Ohio."

State Representative Brandon McGee had similar reactions after the verdict was announced.

"I was relieved for a split second for George Floyd's family but I quickly went into go-mode and remembering that there's so much work that needs to be done," McGee said.

Other cases like the shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright by a former Brooklyn Center officer is another example that both McGee and Callum mentioned.

Callum, along with other activists and organizations believe it's critical to have community groups that bring issues to the forefront and initiate direct action which may result in accountability.

"We have to hold ourselves accountable as organization structures, but also hold our community accountable as well and the people that we elect," said Callum. "There is a need to support grassroots initiatives those individuals that are doing this work based off of the joy and the love they have in their heart," said Melinda Johnson, director of community engagement and advocacy at the YWCA.

The YWCA is an organization with a goal of eliminating racism while empowering women. Johnson believes diversity in all spaces can lead to progress. She highlights education, legislation and the criminal justice system as some of the areas that need attention.

"It's important to have a diverse jury and to have diverse voices within the criminal justice system," said Johnson. "We need to have those voices to decide what is just and it's important to have those voices at the tables of decisions."

State leaders believe flexibility is a must especially when the community is calling for reform.

"The people who are closet to the problem the challenge that they face everyday are the ones with the solutions," said State Representative McGee. "They've been declaring there's a problem, here's a solution, why aren't you all who manage the powers, systems listening and for that very reason, we should be listening to those who are closet to the problem."

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