BREAKING: Guilty Chauvin verdict brings relief, but with calls for more police accountability

By Zachary Clingenpeel, Photojournalist

Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murder on Tuesday, April 20 and while a small group of demonstrators gathered in downtown Chicago, the city remained fairly quiet following the verdict. Valentina Pucarelli

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of the murder of George Floyd, after nearly a year of international protests amid a global pandemic.

On Tuesday, April 20, a Minnesota jury found Chauvin guilty on all three counts he faced — second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, and Judge Peter Cahill revoked Chauvin’s bail. The former officer was then led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.

Around an hour before the verdict, the college notified the Columbia community via email, call and text that all campus buildings except residence halls would close at 3 p.m. until further notice based on “the situation in the city and the South Loop.”

Columbia later notified students, staff and faculty that the campus would reopen Wednesday, April 21, and operations would continue as usual.

On Monday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker activated the Illinois National Guard to be deployed to Chicago in anticipation of the verdict by request of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, as reported by the Associated Press.

In spite of these precautions, Chicagoans remained peaceful with very little activity or protesting following the verdict.

In a Tuesday email statement to the Chronicle, Senior Vice President and Provost Marcella David said she was “relieved at the guilty verdicts.”

“I can only hope that this case, and other questionable use of force cases, will catalyze a widespread reexamination of some current, and, in my view, outdated police practices,” David said.

Isaiah Moore, senior television and cultural studies double major and Student Organization Council president, said that the verdict was a step toward police accountability.

“I’m glad to see it happen right now,” Moore said. “We’ve seen this story time and time again where many [accused] officers don’t even get a case, much less a conviction.”

In a Twitter thread, Lightfoot gave her immediate reactions to the verdict, writing, “I join my fellow Chicagoans, Americans, and human beings across the world as justice is being served in Minneapolis today.”

Pritzker said in a public statement that the verdict “marks an important milestone on the journey to justice, but the fullest measure of progress is how we deliver accountability, safety and meaningful change.”

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the nation following the verdict, emphasizing that there is still more that needs to be done.

“There’s more to do,” Biden said. “It’s the work we do every day to change hearts and minds as well as laws and policies. That’s the work we have to do.”

Several Chicago-based organizations planned to gather after jurors announced they had reached a verdict. Revolution Club Chicago posted on its Facebook page, calling for protesters to meet at Cloud Gate in Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St. Another local activist group, Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, planned for action in Daley Plaza at 5 p.m. in a Facebook Group post Tuesday.

A small group of demonstrators gathered at Daley Plaza after the verdict was announced. The people represented groups such as ChiResists, Chicago Alliance and Chicago Torture Justice Center.

Mark Clements, community organizer with Chicago Torture Justice Center and a former victim of prison torture, was present at the Daley Plaza event and said he is glad the verdict was guilty.

“[The verdict] sends a loud booming echo to the system that its racism will not be tolerated any longer,” Clements said.