Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on April 20 for murdering George Floyd last year. The trial, which began March 29, left people around the country waiting for the final verdict for nearly four weeks.
Many Baldwinites said the weeks spent waiting for the verdict were painfully long, and many said they were filled with anxiety about the result. When the verdict was an-nounced, however, they said they were relieved and pleased.
“I was stressed and very nervous when they were right about to reveal the verdict . . . This is a historic moment,” said Baldwin resident Nicolette Carrion, 18. “There is hope because there is a consciousness that police now have that what they do can have serious consequences, but there is a long way to go.”
“I had gratitude because I think the George Floyd video spoke for itself,” said Nicolette’s mother, Colette Carrion. “We can’t bring him back, but now there was more accountability. This verdict is a start and a beginning, and we know police brutality is still happening, but I am hopeful that things will get better. There is a long history of these cases going in reverse, but we have a lot of gratitude about this verdict.”
Colette recalled an experience she had when she was seeking help from police officers when she was younger, noting that they had dismissed her. After she arrived in New York City, police began making comments about her that made her feel uncomfortable.
It was like “I was some kind of animal, and they said the city was a jungle with animals . . . I’m not sure if they were referring to me, but it made me uncomfortable,” she said. “These kind of encounters affect the rest of your life, and it changed me because I looked at the cops like I should fear them. I don’t know if it was racially motivated, but I was very fearful, and I was a victim, and I didn’t feel secure in their response like they wanted to help me.”
Colette said she has respect for police officers because she has many relatives who are in law enforcement; however, one of her family members has had negative encounters with multiple police officers. The family member was accused of shoplifting, and after she had opened her bag and showed officers that she had not stolen anything, they still followed her outside of the store.
“She was racially profiled, and the store clerk ran down the street after her and chased her,” Colette said, “The police officers then handcuffed her without evidence. She later moved out of the city because she was very traumatized.”
“When you hear all this bad news and not a lot of police standing up for justice, it’s hard not to view police in a specific way,” Nicolette added. “There is still a long way to go.”
Another Baldwin resident, who declined to be identified, said that a few years ago her father had had a negative experience with a police officer. She watched as police officers harassed her father — while outside their own home — by accusing him of trespassing in front of their house. The officers handcuffed him. Her mother then came out of the house to tell the police to let her husband go because they were in front of their home.
“The police officers came out of nowhere, and they saw something broken on my dad’s car, and then they started to tell my dad that our house is not his and that he is trespassing,” she said. “Eventually, the cops let my dad go, but he broke down and cried a few days later because he was traumatized after that negative encounter with the police. There are many good cops out there who have stood up for the truth, but unfortunately many cops think they are above the law.”