'We carry that trauma': Bay Area community leaders react to Derek Chauvin sentencing

ByMelanie Woodrow via KGO logo
Saturday, June 26, 2021
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As a judge sentenced former police officer Derek Chauvin to 22 1/2 years on Friday, the impact of the sentence spread across the Bay Area.

As a judge sentenced Derek Chauvin to 22 1/2 years, the impact of the sentence spread across the Bay Area.

"I thought wow, you know this whole experience, this whole trial has been filled with surprises including the fact that he was convicted," said Cat Brooks, executive director of the Justice Teams Network.

RELATED: Derek Chauvin sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison for George Floyd's murder

"It's traumatic to see people who look like you killed over and over and over again and there never be any accountability," Brooks continued. "The only way or one of the only ways that we're going to get to a place where police stop killing black people with impunity is if police are held accountable."

Civil Rights Attorney John Burris estimates he currently has more than 50 open cases of police brutality.

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"Here's what I think is important is that the general population, the general public is much more aware of these particular events and therefore they're more willing to hold police accountable," said Burris.

Burris said cell phone video was key in Chauvin's case. It showed the former Minneapolis police officer pinning George Floyd under his knee while Floyd pleaded with him that he could not breathe.

"To me, it's one of the revolutionary aspects of policing that's taken place has been the advent and the availability of cell phones and body cameras as well," said Burris.

RELATED: George Floyd's daughter Gianna, brothers speak at Derek Chauvin sentencing: 'I miss you'

In this case video may have helped with prosecution, but it also hurt many who saw it.

"Every time a black person is murdered, we feel that trauma," Brooks said. "We carry that trauma. Every time we leave our house or our loved ones leave the house we're worried they're not going to make it back because of a fatal encounter with law enforcement."

Brooks says there cannot be any peace without justice.