The Next 400 Advisory Council weighs in on the three guilty verdicts against former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin

Updated: Apr. 21, 2021 at 6:36 PM EDT
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Former Cleveland police officer Charmin Leon; Reporter Harry Boomer;  Civil Right Attorney...
Former Cleveland police officer Charmin Leon; Reporter Harry Boomer; Civil Right Attorney Subodh Chandra and Chenoa Miller, CSU student(Cleveland)

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - As part of our racial justice initiative “The Next 400,” 19 News formed an advisory council of community leaders to help us imagine and craft important stories.

We decided to poll several members to get their reactions to the highly anticipated verdicts in the Derek Chauvin murder of George Floyd.

Charmin Leon sits on the Cleveland Police Commission and is an Implementation Specialist for the Center of Policing Equity, Housed at Yale University.

“My initial reaction was: finally,” said Leon.

Charmin Leon is a former Cleveland Police Sergeant and recruiter. She knows better than most the power of the thin blue shield, having spent decades in uniform wearing a badge and gun.

“My next reaction is, ’God, please don’t let people think we’ve made it.’ This is only the beginning. We have so much more to do,” she said.

Leon says she watched the verdicts come down with her children while holding them close.

“The fact that we had to worry about the outcome is the problem,” she said.

Chenoa Miller is a Cleveland State University student taking Urban Studies. She also works at Digital C, which provides broadband internet service to Cleveland Municipal School District students and low-income residents needing to be connected to the rest of the world via the web. Here’s how she responded to the news of three guilty verdicts against former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin, who is white in the murder of George Floyd, who is Black.

“My initial reaction was a very long sigh,” said Miller. “It was somewhat of a relief, but it came back because you have to remind yourself you cannot be stagnant or complacent and we should not take this as a win.”

Miller identifies with the trauma of seeing the country’s Black and brown communities literally under fire.

“As a Black person, of course, living in America, this is still another instance... where someone has lost their life and that’s why we’re here,” she said.

Floyd was murdered by Chauvin in May 2020. Chauvin was convicted on three charges after he put his knee to Floyd’s neck for 9:29 seconds.

“It was a feeling of very understated relief. Almost as if you’re taking an ineffective knock-off Ibuprofen,” said Cleveland Civil Rights Attorney Subodh Chandra and Managing Partner Chandra Law Firm. “It just barely took a little bit of edge off. But then, I got concerned that people will get complacent and think somehow the issues in the justice system are solved.”

All agree the guilty verdicts against Chauvin are a drop in the bucket toward righting the wrongs between police and America’s people of color.

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