In Minneapolis, on the corner of 37th and Chicago Ave, Edwin Reed can hear the cheering.
Just minutes prior, a jury on Tuesday afternoon found the former 4th precinct police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of 2nd degree murder, 3rd degree murder, and 2nd degree manslaughter. Last May 25, Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes and killed him–sparking calls for justice and police reform in just about every corner of society, as well as continued protests all over the world.
Reed owns Sincere Detailing Pros, an auto-detail shop down the street from where Floyd was murdered. All year, he’s managed protest after protest. But right now, the crowds are joyous–and it’s a breath of fresh air, says Reed, who’s owned his shop for nine years. “People gathering together over here, honking horns. They’re excited.”
Yet he’s nervous. He’s anxious about what the sentencing will bring. In about eight weeks’ time, judge Peter A. Cahill is could sentence Chauvin for up to 75 years in prision. He could also get a lighter sentence, as he has no criminal record to this point. If the former cop is viewed as getting off easy, that might spark further protests. “I’m mean, I’m glad that they found a guilty verdict, but I’m just wondering what’s next,” he says.
Like other shops in the area, the barricades have hurt his business. Reed estimates that he went from doing 50 cars a month to six or seven. Cars can only approach the shop through the alley and Reed says most find it inconvenient or unpleasant. Down the street, Sammy Willis Jr., one of the owners of The Original Just Turkey, an all-turkey BBQ restaurant, says that between the coronavirus and the barricades, business is down 75 percent since May 2020.
And five blocks down the street at soul-food restaurant Mama Sheila’s House of Soul, co-owner Frederick Brathwaite says that after events of the past year, they’re thinking about opening the restaurant every Monday evening for forums about police violence. If Chauvin hadn’t been found guilty, that forum would have been “even more necessary,” he says. As a founder, to keep going, “You have to make a conscious effort to be positive,” he says, despite a year of feeling angry about racial injustice and worried about his business being damaged.
But increased stability that comes with the trial being over, plus an influx of visitors to the site could be good for Just Turkey and other shops, Willis says. “Justice was served,” Willis adds. “We’re really excited. And I think the world is excited.”
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