The Valley News has been selected to add two journalists — a photojournalist and a climate and environment reporter — to our newsroom through Report for America, a national service program that boosts local news by harnessing community support.

Please consider donating to this effort.

Guilty verdict in George Floyd’s murder resonates in the Upper Valley

  • Camille Pierce, of West Lebanon, N.H., and Garth Sutherland, of Lebanon, N.H., talk on the Dartmouth Green in Hanover on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. During their conversation they got word that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd. ( Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 4/20/2021 10:00:59 PM
Modified: 4/20/2021 10:02:31 PM

HANOVER — Upper Valley residents concerned about racial justice expressed relief Tuesday when a 12-person jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murder in the death of George Floyd almost a year ago.

“I’m at a loss for words,” said North Hartland resident Ed Taylor, who watched the entire trial, which started March 8 and ended with closing arguments Monday. A key piece of evidence in the trial was a video that circulated days after Floyd’s death on May 25 which showed Chauvin kneeling on the Black man’s neck for more than nine minutes.

The jury returned Tuesday with the verdict, convicting Chauvin on counts of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The charges carry up to a 40-year sentence.

Taylor, who had helped organize a vigil for Floyd on the Hanover Green days after his death, said that for him, the makeup of the jury, which included four Black jurors, was a key aspect of the trial.

“This is on the top of my mind. ... There are four people that look like me, that look like George Floyd,” said Taylor, who is Black. “This isn’t Emmett Till.”

Taylor was referring to the 1955 trial of two white men accused of kidnapping and murdering Till, a Black 14-year-old. An all-white jury in Mississippi acquitted the two men, sparking outrage across the country.

Despite the outcome of the Chauvin trial, for many who spent the past year protesting against police brutality and Floyd’s murder, the verdict is a bittersweet reminder of the work it took to get justice.

“I’m overjoyed, I really, really am. But I can’t help but think, it shouldn’t have been this much time,” Taylor said. “I can’t help but also feel that this is the absolute bare minimum. The world saw what happened.”

That feeling is shared by Camille Pierce, a West Lebanon resident who works for Dartmouth College.

“I’m feeling that this is the bare minimum that could happen,” Pierce said. “It’s such a cut and dried thing. It shouldn’t take me as a Black person saying that.”

As for whether the verdict will usher in any kind of change in police departments, Pierce said she would “love to say yes” but is wary, given the response to police killings of Black people in the past.

Taylor is a little more hopeful, noting the number of police officers who took the stand to testify against Chauvin during the trial. He said that could be an indication of a changing attitude among a police force that once unquestioningly supported their fellow officers.

“It’s not a blue wall of silence anymore,” he said.

Jen Capriola, a Dartmouth College sophomore, said she was happy but surprised by the verdict, adding that she didn’t have much faith in the legal system. But she was also hopeful that the outcome of the case may be an indication of future reform within police departments.

“Right now we’re in a period of hope,” Capriola said. “I feel like this will signify that things should change.”

Wilson Murane, a junior at Dartmouth, had a similar thought, saying the relatively young makeup of the jury — 10 jurors were under the age of 50 — is indicative of a larger, progressive attitude in younger generations.

“There’s a pervading sentiment among my age group that there’s a generational gap about feelings of social and cultural change,” he said.

Lawmakers from the Twin States also applauded the verdict.

Republican New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said he had supported charges being filed in the case.

“George Floyd should be alive today, and while he will sadly never be able to return to his friends and family, we can appreciate that justice through our legal system has been delivered. I join the people of New Hampshire in praying for George Floyd and his family and hope we can heal as a nation,” Sununu said in a statement.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said far more work is needed.

“The jury’s verdict delivers accountability for Derek Chauvin, but not justice for George Floyd. Real justice for him and too many others can only happen when we build a nation that fundamentally respects the human dignity of every person,” Sanders, I-Vt., said in a statement.

“We must boldly root out the cancer of systemic racism and police violence against people of color,” Sanders added.

Anna Merriman can be reached at amerriman@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.




Valley News

24 Interchange Drive
West Lebanon, NH 03784
603-298-8711

 

© 2020 Valley News
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy