Derek Chauvin verdict sparks student reactions

In this image from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin listens as his defense attorney Eric Nelson gives closing arguments while Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides Monday, April 19, 2021, in the trial of Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool)

By Mallory Harris | Staff Writer

Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who murdered George Floyd, was found guilty of all three charges placed against him. The verdict was announced around 4 p.m. Tuesday.

The charges included second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. After 10 hours of deliberation spread across two days, the “multiracial” jury made a decision. Chauvin’s sentencing will take place in the following weeks.

This case was started by the killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin was caught on video pressing his knee Floyd’s neck into the ground for about 9 minutes.

Houston senior Lexy Bogney, president of Baylor NAACP, shared how hearing the verdict was very emotional for her. Bogney explained how she was already working in summer 2020 and wanted to hear a statement from the university after Floyd’s death. In the moment, Bogney shared how it was both overwhelming and joyous for her to hear the verdict.

“To hear them say guilty, I just started tearing up and I remember stepping on the bus, and my bus driver was like, ‘Is everything okay?’ And I was explaining to him what was happening and even though I was so happy and excited that we are finally getting some form of justice,” Bogney said. “… But it was definitely overwhelming because it was something I’ve definitely not been used to hearing.”

Broken Arrow, Okla., senior Jada Holliday shared how the summer after Floyd’s death was one of the most horrific summers of her life. Filled with deep pain after losing multiple Black lives due to police violence, Holliday also explained how that summer ripped off the blindfold for her white counterparts. While thinking of gratitude when reading the verdict, Holliday was shocked to see all three charges be found guilty. She said she sees it as a precedent for society.

“We shouldn’t have to justify justice for someone who felt unjustly. Period,” Holliday said.

Murrieta, Calif., sophomore Ken Hollingsworth explained how he wasn’t necessarily surprised by the verdict but was more concerned with the sensationalized presence the case has brought and its effects. Set to become president of the Bull Moose Society next year, Hollingsworth also shared how the organization plans to keep to its values next semester.

“You really have to wonder how objective can a jury be when they are being bombarded by other opinions and other news sources about the topic that they are deliberating on,” Hollingsworth said.

Trophy Club senior Zach Miller also expressed his surprise after hearing Chauvin’s guilty conviction. While not predicting any implications to be seen on campus in the coming weeks, Miller shared his concern about the possibility of the verdict being thrown out on appeal. Referencing statements from multiple politicians including the mayor of Minneapolis, Miller’s concern isn’t alone.

Aurora, Colo., junior Sam Onilenla expressed his relief when listening to the trial. Reflecting on the summer of Floyd’s death, Onilenla said the experience was a spark for all he was to do when he came back to Baylor for school in the fall. Expressing the pain he felt when watching the video, Onilenla explained how there were a lot of emotions while everything was happening.

“That was my spark. That was my moment when I was just like, ‘I have to use my voice now. I have to speak up,’” Onilenla said.

Onilenla said he thinks it will be interesting to see the implications of the case on campus.