Derek Chauvin verdict echoes through the mountains

Published: Apr. 20, 2021 at 11:05 PM EDT
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PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - When George Floyd’s death was captured on camera, many people across the world joined in a collective gasp. Since then, with marches and protests across the nation, some say they have been holding their breath, awaiting the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with his murder.

“It was basically like opening up the briefcase to the public finally,” said college student Quion Lee. “So, it’s just something that’s always been there. But seeing that we’re all in quarantine, now eyes are on it. So, for me, it was like, ‘Finally.’”

However, even with the graphic, viral video, and the outcries of advocates, Lee said he was not confident justice would be served.

“There’s cases that still haven’t been figured out, like the Breonna Taylor situation,” he said. “Other black people getting shot, or you can see it on body cameras where they’re getting choked out. And then the verdict’s like, ‘Oh, he was just doing his job.’ However, now that everyone in the world is saying it’s a murder, I hope it sticks.”

But a small breath came for Lee Tuesday when Chauvin was found guilty of two counts of murder and one count of manslaughter, arrested and convicted for Floyd’s death.

“The first feeling that I had was like, ‘Yes! Now we know that justice has happened,’” he said. “It does hurt everybody. It hurts all of us, but we know that he ain’t die in vain.”

Lee said watching people across the world come together to raise their voices for Floyd and his family was emotional. But he hopes to hear those advocates continue to pour out until equality is a reality.

“Us, as a human race, still have a lot of moving forward to do,” he said. “Because it’s hostility on both sides that both need to be died out. So, once we die out hostility, the only thing that’s left is peace.”

He said the future for people of color looks a little brighter in light of Tuesday’s decision.

“For us, it’s just the stepping stone that we’ve got to take to keep pushing like we’ve been doing,” said Lee. “I feel like it gave us a fire as well, to be like, ‘Everything that we see is not okay. It’s not common to our society. It’s not a thing that happens. It’s something that’s wrong that needs to be handled.’ And with this George Floyd case, I feel like it’s gonna get handled a lot more often.”

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