RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — After the murder conviction of ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, Richmond residents who protested in the wake of George Floyd’s death expressed relief and shock.
In the wake of Floyd’s death, thousands of Richmonders protested and several people rioted last summer.
Nearly one year later several people around the Robert E. Lee monument–the epicenter of 2020 demonstrations–told 8News Tuesday’s conviction triggers change in the criminal justice system.
“I’m just thankful, God is the greatest,” said a man who calls himself ‘Beethegardener’ named in connection to the flower and herb beds planted at the foot of the Lee monument.
Protestors often refer to the roundabout land as ‘Marcus David Peters Circle,’ after a public schools teacher bearing the same name was shot by a Richmond police officer in 2018.
Raven Smith said, “I was so excited. I was relieved in a way, I was emotional” after Chauvin was found guilty on three varying counts of murder.
For months, outcry in city streets populated Virginia’s capital
“Say his name–George Floyd,” “Say her name–Breonna Taylor” were oft-heard chants during marches, advocating for criminal justice reform across the country.
After Floyd was killed last May, Richmond police and protesters occasionally clashed during demonstrations—though a majority of protests remained peaceful.
Lifelong Richmond resident Cory Webb said he believes the 2020 protests helped deliver a conviction in Minneapolis.
“For all the hearts to be inclined in that same moment, and for us to all keep standing, and all keep supporting each other, for them to actually finally find him guilty. It is a feeling, a good feeling,” he said.
Tough distressing, some said they were thankful for the video evidence of Chauvin‘s knee seen on Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes.
“It was just so obvious to me,” Andre Tolleris said. “I’m just so incredibly thankful and happy that the system actually worked, and that he was found guilty on all three charges.”
2020 demonstrations in Richmond also brought a bout a racial reckoning of its own; all of the city’s Confederate monuments were removed, except that of A.P. Hill where he’s interred on Hermitage Road.
The only other statue still standing is of Confederate General Robert E. Lee–a site where Floyd’s family visited mere months ago.
Governor Ralph Northam ordered the statue to be removed in 2020 following protests, though legal challenges to this decision were subsequently presented, and will be considered in Virginia Supreme Court.