WINCHESTER — The Winchester Area NAACP and local activists praised the guilty verdict against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, but they said the fight against racism and police brutality is far from over.

"While we shed tears of joy, we remember that this verdict does not bring back George Floyd, or the many Black lives lost to police brutality,” local NAACP President Michael Faison said in a statement from the organization to The Star. “The knee has not yet been removed from the necks of so many Black and Brown people. We in the Winchester Area NAACP will not rest until all in our community have the right to breathe.”

Chauvin was convicted Tuesday of murder and manslaughter in the May 25 killing of Floyd, a Black man, who Chauvin pinned to the ground with his knee for nearly nine minutes. Floyd’s death sparked nationwide protests against systemic racism and police brutality, with several protests occurring in the Winchester area last summer.

Faison said the criminal justice system has historically failed Black families in cases similar to Floyd’s, but Tuesday’s verdict was “a small, incremental step toward accountability.”

"We will continue to fight for an end to the horrors of police brutality and a criminal justice system that fails to properly hold law enforcement officials accountable," the statement continued. "We look forward to continued work and community engagement with our local law enforcement. We also look outside our local community to our elected officials. We urge the Virginia House and Senate to end qualified immunity, which protects police from civil rights claims, and call for the collection of detailed data on police encounters that will provide transparency and safety for our communities. Our country still has so much work to do to ensure that everyone’s lives are safe and respected, but today we focus on remembering the life and impact of George Floyd."

Terrance Wilson, a 30-year-old Winchester resident who created the “I Can’t Breathe” Walk on Winchester Facebook group, hopes the verdict is a sign of justice being delivered in similar cases.

“The moments that led us here are the moments where we saw injustice,” said Wilson. “And an injustice that has been alive and well for quite some time. Winchester showed how people can come together and rise against the injustices we see today and going into the future. With this jury verdict, hopefully there will be more justice to come."

I’m Just Me Movement co-founder Tina Stevens, who made history as the first Black woman elected to Stephens City Town Council, said that the jurors “were able to look through the lens of humanity.”

“Sadly, racism is alive and well in judicial systems, school systems, health care systems in Virginia and globally,” Stevens said. “Justice came through for George Floyd and his family. White supremacy continues to be a cancer for Black people and people of color.”

Shenandoah University graduate Danee Simmons, who organized a protest calling for criminal justice reform last summer, said she was “completely shocked” when the verdict was read, as she had convinced herself Chauvin was going to be acquitted. The 23-year-old said her shock was due to a long history of justice not being served for Black people in America.

“I was just sitting in my car crying my eyes out because I was so happy about how everything had turned out,” Simmons said. “It was completely shocking in a really good way."

— Contact Josh Janney at jjanney@winchesterstar.com

(13) comments

Cleo

Thank you Terrance, Tina, and Danee, for all you do. As for the "Normal citizens" being asked their opinion, they were, in this article.

Blackhorsegirl

Well, OldPhil, and we wonder why there is continued racism in our country. I notice you didn’t really give your opinion when you had the chance but just criticized the local NAACP. Our country has a long way to go.

OldPhil

Racism only exists because some people can't give up the limelight.

Spock Here

The entire world was a witness. Time to get rid of the scum. Thank you to our brave men and women in uniform who serve us everyday without having to use their knee.

john brown

This local citizen applauds this verdict. The cop killed this man and other cops agreed. This wasn't policing, this was murder. Anyone who does not see/recognize this has too many deplorable characteristics. phil and his fellow cult members don't support the police as witnessed by the coup on Jan 6. the cult beat and tried to kill police officers attempting to overthrow the government for a confessed sexual predator.

Blackhorsegirl

Are you implying that being a member of the NAACP makes a person Not a normal citizen? I imagine if you passed them in a isle in Target, they’d look pretty much like a normal citizen.

So OldPhil, we won’t call you a racist because there appears to be a couple of snowflakes in the audience. I will say you make racist statements.

OldPhil

"Local activists," eh? I have a suggestion for you: Maybe interview "normal citizens" for a change when you want an unbiased perspective on national events. The activists are only interested in perpetuating whatever cause they represent, insuring that, in this case, racial division continues and the "activists" keep getting interviewed by the local paper.

StellaBob

oldphil should be ashamed of himself. Old Racist fool. Please keep your racist comments to yourself. fool

Chupacabra

Because calling people names and isolating them works so well to change their minds when they differ from your thought process. Dialogue and discussion on all sides of an issue, not isolation, will be the solution to the problem.

StellaBob

Can't change an old racists mind or thoughts. I am just a realist and know that old Phil won't change. so.....he's a giant butt nugget!

OldPhil

Reading comprehension is sorely lacking around here, I see.

Chupacabra

There was nothing racist about his comments.

Jason Murray

@OldPhil - Every "normal citizen" I have talked to in this area thinks that Floyd was basically murdered. This includes many who are adamantly conservative in their views. Indeed, all the Cops I know also think that the verdict was just and appropriate and that Floyd was murdered. As such, if you think that the verdict, or those that praise it, is in anyway racially divisive, then you probably have some bias that is clouding your judgement. Even if you are not biased, your reaction to those praising the outcome of the trial, is certainly outside the "normal" response from folks I have seen express an opinion (with the exception of course of declared racial supremacists who have made disturbing public statements of support for racial animosity and division). For the most part, "normal citizen" includes many folks who do not share your bias. If this disqualifies them from being "normal" in your opinion, I would direct you back to my statement that you probably have some bias clouding your judgement. Lastly, racism doesn't disappear or cease to exist just because you try to ignore it or when you try to claim its not there or when you deride those that courageously challenge it. Indeed, those actions are generally considered proof that racism is quite real.

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