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Minneapolis' Reaction To Chauvin's Verdict

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Some of the moments from these last several hours after the verdict was read in the courtroom in Minneapolis and people were reacting to Derek Chauvin's conviction. I want to bring in NPR's Leila Fadel - she is out and about in Minneapolis tonight - and NPR's Adrian Florido.

Hey, you two.

ADRIAN FLORIDO, BYLINE: Hi, Mary Louise.

LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: Hi.

KELLY: Adrian, I'm going to start with you. I want to make sure people have the full facts as they try to process what has happened today. So briefly walk us again through the charges and the conviction.

FLORIDO: Well, Derek Chauvin was charged with three counts - second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He was convicted on all three counts. Second-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 40 years. Although the sentencing guidelines for someone like Derek Chauvin, who has no criminal background, no criminal record, placed the expected sentence somewhere between 10 and 15 years, although the judge can always divert from those sentencing guidelines if he chooses.

And in fact, the prosecution has indicated that it actually plans to seek a longer sentence for Chauvin because of aggravating factors in this case, one of them being the fact that the crime was committed in the presence of children and another because the crime is considered an abuse of government authority. And so sentencing in the case is expected in eight weeks, the judge told us today. Before then, the lawyers and the judge are going to get together to talk about these aggravating factors and whether the judge intends to divert from the guidelines.

KELLY: OK. And we heard a little sampling of reaction just now. But I know I was waiting to hear from George Floyd's family, what they were going to say. Sum up for us what you heard.

FLORIDO: Well, I just came from the hotel where the Floyd family spoke, and it was a very emotional event. We heard from Philonise Floyd principally - the brother of George Floyd - who took the stand during the trial. He said he felt relieved. He said it was horrible to sit in court and watch over and over video of his brother being murdered. But he said that today, he and the entire world could breathe again, at least for a moment.

KELLY: Leila, let me bring you in. I mentioned you're out and about in Minneapolis. We can hear all kinds of noise behind you. Tell me where you are. What's going on?

FADEL: Well, I'm actually right outside the courthouse, and in front of me are just cars honking. There are young men with Black Lives Matter flags on top of cars. And right behind them is the courthouse, which is fenced off. There are National Guard and then also people walking up and down, really in celebration of the fact that Derek Chauvin was convicted on all three charges.

KELLY: And law enforcement - are they also still out in force tonight?

FADEL: Well, you're not seeing them out in the street where the people are. You're seeing them behind the fences, inside - around the courthouse building. And so you're not seeing police up and down the roads. You're seeing people out. And really, that tension that we were feeling for weeks in this trial as people were watching that video of George Floyd being killed over and over again - a lot of that tension is gone. And like Adrian mentioned the - Floyd's brother saying, it feels like a collective breath that everyone has taken.

KELLY: It does. It does sound like just a totally different city than you've been reporting...

FADEL: Yeah.

KELLY: ...From these last several weeks. Well, a question from you both as the reaction has come in, either from ordinary people out and about tonight where you are, Leila, or official reaction from the family or elected officials - I wonder what themes stand out to you both. Leila, you first.

FADEL: A lot of the people that I spoke to talked about, this is just the beginning. So they saw a man cuffed. He's going to be sentenced, taken to jail. But they say this is an individual who's being held accountable, and they want to look at a system that allowed for a man like George Floyd to die. In this case, there was a nine-minute-and-29-second video that documented every moment, but they talked about all the others that don't have nine minutes and 29 seconds documenting what happened. So they want this to be a movement towards looking at the system. And, of course, everybody has really different ideas about that - what that means.

KELLY: Of course. Adrian, how about you?

FLORIDO: Well, you know, the kind of jubilation that Leila has described, this emotional release, a sense of justice delivered, but also a recognition that this is, you know, just one case, as Leila was saying, that the fight for racial justice continues - indeed, that they - people can't really rest, you know? Maybe they're taking a moment to celebrate today. But this case is just one. And already in the streets today, I was hearing the name of Daunte Wright chanted over and over again because in two days, Reverend Al Sharpton will preside over his funeral, and there's going to be a trial for his killer, the police officer from Brooklyn Center - so the sense that, you know, we are having a moment of celebration today, but as soon as we're done, when we get up tomorrow morning, this fight continues.

KELLY: And what about, for each of you, a quick final thought? You both have covered this from the beginning, from the early protests right up through tonight - Adrian.

FLORIDO: You know, I was - there was - it was such a striking moment to be watching Derek Chauvin taken into custody today after the judge remanded him to jail, the sheriff putting the handcuffs on him and leading him out. I mean, we're used to seeing that scene in American courtrooms when someone is convicted, but it was much more poignant because one of the last things we saw of George Floyd was him in handcuffs being knelt upon.

KELLY: And Leila, for you?

FADEL: I mean, for me, it's about what we saw last summer. And the result is this. I mean, people took to the streets, and they said, no, we want to see accountability here. And today, they got it.

KELLY: NPR's Leila Fadel and Adrian Florido, both in Minneapolis covering the conviction today of Derek Chauvin, thank you.

FLORIDO: Thank you, Mary Louise.

FADEL: Thank you, Mary Louise. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.