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Energized By Chauvin Case, Minneapolis Activists Eye Police Accountability Work Ahead

SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

Now to Minneapolis, where, yesterday, former officer Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison for the murder of George Floyd. It was a moment many in the city had been eager to see ever since Floyd died under Chauvin's knee. Now that his trial is over, residents are processing what it means and what comes next, as NPR's Adrian Florido reports.

ADRIAN FLORIDO, BYLINE: Shortly after Chauvin's sentence was handed down on Friday, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who led the prosecution, said this.

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KEITH ELLISON: The outcome of this case is critically important. But by itself, it's not enough.

FLORIDO: He called on Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act held up in the Senate, and he said activists have to keep up their work.

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ELLISON: My hope for our country is that this moment gives us pause and allows us to rededicate ourselves to the real societal change that will move us much further along the road to justice.

FLORIDO: Here in Minneapolis, it's a sentiment broadly shared by those who've marched for police accountability in the year since George Floyd's murder. Locking Derek Chauvin up was necessary, they've said, but not enough. Antonio Williams says Chauvin's sentence brought him little satisfaction.

ANTONIO WILLIAMS: It's the system that created that callousness, that ability for a person who was supposed to protect life to take it and feel comfortable enough to do so. The system has to be held accountable before I take any satisfaction.

FLORIDO: Williams said his work to usher in that change, like the work of many others here, won't stop. Earlier this year, he ran an effort to collect signatures for a ballot initiative to shrink the city's police department and create a new Department of Public Safety.

WILLIAMS: We got the signatures we needed. The initiative will be on the ballot. And the next phase of that is getting people who are supportive of it involved in engaging other people and then, you know, getting those who are unsupportive of it to, you know, become supportive of it and really getting people to just challenge the accepted way.

FLORIDO: Toshira Garraway directs Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence, a support group for the families of people killed by police. She said learning Derek Chauvin's fate was bittersweet.

TOSHIRA GARRAWAY: It's bittersweet because there are so many more families that are out here that led up to George Floyd that never got a chance to see justice. And the families can only hope and pray that we ever get to that point where George Floyd family got to.

FLORIDO: She fears Chauvin's conviction could lead the public to believe the justice system has no problem holding bad officers accountable. That's why, she says, she'll keep telling the stories of other families who've lost loved ones to police.

GARRAWAY: Fighting to get those stories out and let people know that they can't just be satisfied with one killer cop when there's hundreds of more killer cops that are out there. I will continue to fight for healing. That's how I plan to fight against the complacency.

FLORIDO: It's a message that was echoed by George Floyd's brother, Philonise Floyd, outside the Minneapolis courthouse on Friday.

PHILONISE FLOYD: Can't get comfortable because when you get comfortable, people forget about you.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Amen.

FLORIDO: He said he plans to keep fighting so George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other victims of police violence are never forgotten.

Adrian Florido, NPR News, Minneapolis. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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