Militant Journalism

Chauvin verdict — People in the street say: ‘Today we made history! Tomorrow, it’s back to work!’

Feature image: Demonstrators holding up four fingers, symbolizing Chauvin’s three accomplices plus Kim Potter, the cop who killed Daunte Wright. Liberation photo

On April 20 as it was announced that a verdict had been reached in the case of Derek Chauvin, people gathered in cities around the country to hear the verdict read, prepared to respond. Liberation News was there. The following are reports from our militant journalists on the ground with the people.

Outside the Hennepin County courthouse in downtown Minneapolis where Chauvin’s trial was held, committed activists held space all day on April 20 waiting for the verdict. Once the guilty verdict was announced, hundreds flocked to join them in celebration. 

Unintimidated by the cops and soldiers patrolling every street corner, the people danced and marched and committed themselves to continuing the struggle until racist police terror is a thing of the past. As one activist put it: “Today, we made history! Tomorrow, it’s back to work!”

About 500 people gathered in Columbus, Ohio, at Broad and High Sts. In the moments leading up to the announcement of the Chauvin verdict, residents of Columbus’ east side took to social media to announce that police had just shot and killed Ma’Khia Bryant, a Black teenager who was in the care of Franklin County Children’s Services. The momentary victory against Derek Chauvin was overshadowed by this new tragedy. 

“A guilty verdict doesn’t mean justice,” said a protester who wished to remain anonymous. “A guilty verdict didn’t stop them from murdering a child tonight. It’s not just Derek Chauvin. The whole system is guilty.”

San Francisco, April 20. Liberation photo

Within hours of the verdict, Party for Socialism and Liberation members in the San Francisco Bay Area organized a speakout outside the 24th Street BART station in San Francisco’s Mission District. Some 25-30 people joined the demonstration. It received overwhelmingly positive responses from passersby on foot and in their cars. 

While speakers acknowledged the importance of the guilty verdict, PSL member Charnelle Ruff broke the news that 15-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant of Columbus, Ohiom, was the latest victim of police terror in the United States and that struggle must continue. 

NBC Bay Area went live at the demonstration, and their coverage can be viewed here

Just hours after the guilty verdict, hundreds of protesters converged on Times Square in New York City to speak, grieve, chant, and take the streets.

New York City, April 20. Liberation photo

The night began with speeches from community members, from activists with Strategy for Black Lives, NYC Action Lab, and the PSL, as well as from the family of Allan Feliz, a Bronx man killed by police during a traffic stop in 2019. The line of the day was perseverance. “In the aftermath of a people’s victory,” said PSL organizer Sasha Harrison, it is not time to sit back but rather to “plant the seeds for real revolutionary change, and to plant the seeds to win.” 

PSL organizer Sasha Harrison surrounded by media. Liberation photo

Marchers then took to the streets of midtown Manhattan. Chanting “Black lives matter!” and “Abolish capitalism!” the crowd took a knee at 7th Ave. and 34th St. There, organizers led the group in reflections on the lives and legacies of Black people taken by killer police, and spoke about the continuous struggle for Black liberation. 

By the time the march reached its final destination at Washington Square Park, the message rang clear: though Chauvin’s conviction will not transform the system, the popular struggle which produced that conviction can — and will.

About 50 people gathered at the  Public Square in downtown Cleveland, Ohio on April 20. While speakers were addressing the crowd it was brought to everyone’s attention that the murder of 15 year old Ma’Khia Bryant had occurred only hours before in Columbus, Ohio. A moment of silence was held, followed by renewed chants of “All of the power, to all of the people!”

Chicago, April 20. Liberation photo

Several dozen gathered in Chicago’s Daley Plaza. Though it was a celebratory gathering, the common sentiment among the crowd and speakers was the same: the fight must continue. 

“Today marks a victory for the people. One killer cop has been convicted due to mass demonstrations across the country. However, justice is not complete. The people of Chicago are still fighting for justice for Adam Toledo, Anthony Alvarez and all the victims of police terror. This verdict gives us a small taste of the people’s power and a small taste of the justice we can achieve,” said Dave Power of PSL Chicago.

Chicago police department could be seen circling the gathering on bikes, and a helicopter passing by every few moments, making it clear that the struggle is far from over. 

About 100 people gathered and rallied in front of Detroit Police Department headquarters on April 20 following the Chauvin guilty verdict. Snow flurries did not dampen protesters’ spirits and resolve to continue the struggle for liberation from police killings, racism and oppression. 

Sammie Lewis, a leading organizer of Detroit Will Breathe, emphasized that while this was a victory won from struggle, police killings and racism will not stop until the system that breeds them is destroyed and replaced. “True justice cannot exist in the system that keeps allowing state violence to be perpetrated,” said Lewis.

Jerry Goldberg of PSL Detroit received a great response when he stated, “Abolishing the police means abolishing capitalism and fighting for socialism where people’s needs come first and not capitalist profits for a few bankers and billionaires.”

In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 120 people marched from 27th and Center, the location of the first day of protests after George Floyd was murdered, to the George Floyd Mural on Holton and North on April 20. 

“This was a win, but this is not victory. We need thousands out here,” said Maria Hamilton, mother of Dantre Hamilton who was killed by police in 2014. “You don’t have to have known George Floyd to be affected by his death. You don’t have to have known Dantre, or Joel Acevedo, or Jay Anderson, or Seville Smith to be affected by their deaths. This affects all of us and Milwaukee needs to wake up and take to the streets because that is how we got this win today.”

A march of at least 100 people started in Nubian Square on April 21, in front the commercial center of one of Boston’s largest Black neighborhoods. It stopped in front of the Roxbury Boston Police Headquarters, where protesters shouted “Black Lives Matter” and “F— the police!” to onlooking officers stationed in front and inside the building. 

During a thunderstorm the crowd listened to speakers from Violence in Boston and the PSL talk about the victory the movement has won in the wake of the Derek Chauvin case, and how the fight for justice is not over.

Boston, Nubian Square demonstration, April 21. Liberation photo

Monica Cannon-Grant, founder of the non-profit Violence in Boston, spoke directly over a loudspeaker to the onlooking police officers stationed both inside and outside the building’s parameters. Just after Derek Chauvin was found guilty, “in Ohio a 15-year-old black girl, Ma’Khia Bryant, was shot in the chest four times,” Cannon-Grant cried. “They are killing our children.” 

Boston PSL member Nino Brown ended the march with a speech. “This is a victory that shows that protesting  does work. However, we must also recognize and deal with the fact that Chauvin going to jail does not solve the problem of police brutality, over policing, the racist prison system and the general problems of oppression of Black  people and exploitation.”

Also in Boston on April 21, about 40 people gathered for the Mass Action Against Police Brutality press conference in front of the Massachusetts State House in Boston. As it rained, the families of victims of police brutality in Massachusetts spoke. As one MC said, “there’s a long list of Derek Chauvins, who are free, making money off the state. They are Massachusetts’ most wanted.”

The family members who spoke told stories of victims of police brutality in Massachusetts across the past years and decades. These included Hope Coleman, mother of Terrence Coleman, killed by Boston Police during a wellness check; Rahima Rahim, mother of Usaama Rahim, killed by six police and FBI officers during a setup and ambush in a CVS parking lot and the sister of Juston Root, killed while lying face down by Boston police. 

In Albany New York, on April 21, dozens of community members and Black Lives Matter activists rallied celebrating the Chauvin verdict in an ongoing protest encampment the community set up outside the Albany Police Department South Station. The encampment was in its fourth day, and will continue until the Police Department agrees to a list of demands. The demands include the firing of Lt. Devin Anderson, who attacked a protester with a megaphone on April 15, and release of a database of the officer disciplinary records. The Albany Police Department has deployed tear gas, pepper spray, batons and rubber bullets in response to Black Lives Matter protests. The Democrat mayor of Albany has thus far refused to meet with protesters or address their demands.

A coalition effort organized a march of about 100 people beginning at North Park Community Park in San Diego on April 21. In a fiery speech, Tucker Davis of PSL San Diego told the crowd, “We have gone past the point of reason with this society that holds us as captives for their wealth. It’s time for revolutionary change!”

San Diego, April 21. Liberation photo: Zach Farber
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