Metro Detroit leaders on what needs to happen next following Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict

‘This is not an attack on police officers, this is an attack upon a system that has provided sanctuary for bad police officers,’

Local leaders talk about what needs to happen next following guilty verdict in Derek Chauvin trial

Detroit – On Tuesday, Derek Chauvin was convicted of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.

The verdict came down after the jury deliberated for about 10 hours.

Floyd was murdered last May after Chauvin, a 45-year-old now-fired white police officer, pinned his knee on or close to the 46-year-old Black man’s neck for about 9 1/2 minutes.

READ: Floyd verdict sparks hope, inspiration for activists abroad

While the verdict may have brought a sense of relief for many, others see it as just the beginning for real change to happen.

Leaders across Metro Detroit said more work needs to be done and that we all need to play a role in it.

“I was severely beaten up by four Detroit police officers when I was 14 years old. I was also shot at by two fellow officers in 1967 during the rebellion,” said former Detroit Police Chief and Deputy Mayor, Dr. Ike McKinnon. “Nothing was done. I remember specifically the looks on their faces as they did what they did to me. That was the same look that was on Chauvin’s face. That look said that I was not a human being.”

“I am relieved there was a moment of accountability and humanity that came out of Derek Chauvin’s trial and I am firmly convinced that Mr. Floyd’s murder and the subsequent verdict has given us a doorway to walk through and to begin some of the change that needs to happen in our country,” said Bishop Bonnie Perry, with Episcopal Diocese, Michigan. “As a white woman, it’s super painful because I can see in it my complicity.”

There is a sense that this is not justice and that more needs to be done.

“This is not an attack on police officers, this is an attack upon a system that has provided sanctuary for bad police officers. It is an attack upon injustice, not justice,” said Head of Detroit NAACP Rev. Wendell. “And for all those good police officers -- and there are many who believe in justice -- they should be with us in this because what happens is it distorts who you are. We need the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. That must be done because it standardizes the operations of police departments all over the country.”

In his first thoughts after the verdict, Macomb County Sheriff Tony Wickersham said this needs to be a wake-up call to law enforcement.

“It wasn’t good policing and this just reinforces what our profession is and what are some of the things we need to fix,” Wickersham said.

For Yodit Mesfin Johnson, there is no joy in the guilty verdict.

“I appreciate that for some folks yesterday felt like justice, it didn’t feel like that for me,” Johnson said. “It felt like we have to keep pushing to live into the values that we espouse of this country: Freedom, justice, pursuit of happiness, liberation. We can’t take our foot off the pedal yet.”

Chauvin had numerous complaints against him for excessive force before his placed his knee on Floyd’s neck.

“He had 17 priors to the murder of George Floyd. 17 priors,” Anthony said. “Why was he still on the police force?”

“Think back to all of the people who were killed by the STRESS unit in the mid-1970s,” said Sheila Cockrell. “Those are people whose deaths have never been acknowledged in the manner and form that George Floyd’s death was.”

When asked about how to change things, experts and community leaders all say the same thing: Vote.

We are facing 39 bills for voter suppression,” Anthony said.

“The suppression of the vote -- which is what these are -- to suppress the vote is to make sure that the people who are elected are people who will side with no change to legislation and protect Black and brown people from being shot and brutalized by law enforcement and police departments,” said Portia Roberson. “It is to continue the status quo of the criminal justice system.”

“The fact that people who operate, and I don’t know if they know it, operate from a framework of white privilege and white supremacy are seizing the moment because they are afraid of change,” Cockrell said. " The voter suppression bills here in this state and around the country have to be stopped.”

The people we put in office, ultimately decide the direction of policing in this Nation.

More: Derek Chauvin convicted of George Floyd’s murder: What happens next?

On Tuesday, Derek Chauvin was convicted of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.

About the Authors:

Paula Tutman is an Emmy award-winning journalist who came to Local 4 in 1992. She's a Peace Corps alum who spent her early childhood living in Sierra Leone, West Africa and Tanzania and East Africa.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.