NewsLocal News

Actions

Local Black activists react to Chauvin guilty verdict

Posted at 10:20 PM, Apr 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-20 23:35:16-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — On Tuesday, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty in the murder of George Floyd. Local Black organizers say they are happy to see some accountability in this case for the sake of the Floyd family, but add that it's hard to celebrate the win when there is still work to be done.

Members of Omaha's Revolutionary Action Party (RAP), a group that says its goal is to "empower and instill a revolutionary consciousness in our communities," spoke with 3 News Now about how they were feeling after seeing the guilty verdicts come in.

Peyton Zyla said he did not watch much of the trial which focused heavily on the video taken as George Floyd was killed.

“It hurts the stomach some time, and it's just anxiety-driven," Zyla said. "When I heard the verdict was coming in today, I tuned into the live stream.”

While the evidence of the trial was hard to see, organizers like Bear Alexander did take note of the testimony that was presented.

“This is a historical moment because never have police turned their backs on one of their own like that," Alexander said of the officers and police chief who testified against Chauvin. "This is a brotherhood. They always turn a blind eye, they always turn the other way when they see injustices carried out by their brothers and sisters in arms.”

Alexander compares Chauvin to a sacrificial lamb, and he says he believes the testimony is a way for police to distance themselves from the former officer's egregious actions. Activists say they won’t forget those actions.

For Alexander and others, Floyd’s death was a catalyst, pushing them into action. LaCedric Gibson said for many, seeing the video and hearing the details of how Floyd was killed was unlike anything seen in the past.

"I can't remember too many times when it was this blatant," Gibson said. "You can look at Rodney King, and that was very gruesome and graphic. But he didn't die in that situation. This man died, the way he died, with so many people watching, I don’t think too many people have seen it to that extent.”

Between 15 million and 26 million people are believed to have taken part in protests last summer, one of the largest movements in U.S. history. Jayden Perkins said he doesn't see the Black Lives Matter movement losing momentum now, and that the verdict could even show that a difference can be made.

"People are going to realize that while we did get a conviction in this case, there are thousands of more cases out there that deserve justice, deserve accountability," said Perkins.

Now that the trial is over, Alexander says it's hard to celebrate when many of the issues still persist.

“We have to be cognizant of how low the bar is, for us to be exclaiming such positive emotions," Alexander said. "We saw this clear-cut murder.”

The Revolutionary Action Party says it will continue shedding a light on the issues here in Omaha and working in their community.

“While this is one small win, this is not justice. This is accountability and there is more work to do," Perkins said.

The group is also hosting food, clothing, and political education programs. They are also canvassing Omaha to speak with their neighbors on what else needs to be done.

Local politicians and the Omaha Police Chief also reacted to the verdict.

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry released a statement saying "Though the verdict will be debated, you just can’t put your knee on someone’s neck area for nine minutes and expect to be exonerated in a trial."

Download our apps today for all of our latest coverage.

Get the latest news and weather delivered straight to your inbox.