Charlottesville, Virginia activists react to Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict

Charlottesville, Virginia activists react to Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Hours after Judge Peter Cahill read the guilty verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, central Virginia community members and activists shared how they felt in that moment.

The feelings ranged from relief to angst, to a desire to continue the pursuit of justice - and often, all three.

“My initial reaction was to do the one thing that George Floyd could not do, and it was just to take a big, deep breath and exhale,” said Myra Anderson, a community activist.

Anderson was one of three activists we spoke with in the wake of the verdict. This included Don Gathers and Robert Barnette, who is the president of the Virginia State Conference of the NAACP.

Gathers said his first reaction was: “not to rejoice, but just relieved they got it right this time.” He added: “Because so, so often they don’t.”

We asked Gathers if he feels this is justice.

“I can’t call this justice because George Floyd isn’t here,” he said. “Justice would have him still here amongst us.”

Gathers and Anderson say they have no choice: progress must continue.

“If you look at every generation, they had work to do,” Anderson said. “And just based on that, we can’t stop until there is justice for all.”

“This is just one small pebble in a very large pond,” Gathers said. “The ripples will go out, but there’s still a lot of water that’s uncovered.”

Barnette is hopeful this verdict will send a message to law enforcement throughout the commonwealth and the country.

“When people are held accountable, behaviors change, and this should show everyone that even law enforcement can be held accountable if they behave badly.”

Both Gathers and Anderson emphasized the importance of self-care, because it has been a really stressful time. Anderson even called self-care “the most revolutionary act that I can do toward the fight.”

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