Charleston activists react to conviction in Derek Chauvin trial

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Holy City law enforcement and local activists have made their voices heard in the hours following the conviction of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, saying it’s a step of progress but more work is needed.

Leaders aren’t calling Tuesday’s news a victory but rather a step of progress in the right direction. They say while they were happy with the news of the verdict, they believe there’s more work to be done in the City of Charleston.

Activists heard the news they say they’ve been waiting for since the murder of George Floyd last May. They’re hoping it’s just a start.

“It’s a step in the right direction to address racial bias and racism so I felt a little relieved,” says Justin Hunt, who serves as President of local advocacy group, Stand as One.

Peaceful gatherings and protests taking to the streets for months across the country and in the Lowcountry, and while there is a sense of relief – activists say justice has failed too many others.

“Trayvon Martin, no conviction. Philandro Castile, no conviction,” says Pastor Thomas Dixon. “Tamir Rice – a kid – no conviction.”

“One down, hundreds to go” and “no justice, no peace,” are some of the sounds that have been heard for months, even years in Marion Square and across the City of Charleston. Activists say the fight lives on as they call on Charleston leaders to come to the table.

“We are victorious when we are treated fairly,” says activist Sharea Washington. “We are victorious when we can see our sons grow up to be men.”

Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds shared some thoughts on the verdict during a city council meeting Tuesday night, he believes the jury got it right.

“I think the verdict is the correct verdict,” says Chief Reynolds.

For Chief Reynolds, he says it comes down to unity and striking a balance so change can be heard and felt across the city.

“And we are going to continue to be focused on keeping our city safe,” says Chief Reynolds. “Uplifting those people’s voices that want to be heard, making sure that they are peaceful and lawful.”

A step in the right direction but activists say it can only serve as a starting point.

“Today was only one small step for mankind and definitely not a big enough step for humanity,” says Pastor Dixon.

Small groups gathered in Marion Square immediately following the announcement of the conviction but demonstrators remained peaceful and left the area shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday night.

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