On Wednesday, April 21, activists gathered across Boston in order to call for further policing reforms. The demonstrations came just a day after the verdict for the trial of Derek Chauvin was released.
Chauvin is a former white Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on the neck of George Floyd, a Black man, for about nine minutes, despite Floyd being handcuffed, on the ground and telling Chauvin he couldn’t breathe multiple times. Floyd died later that day, May 25, 2020, while in police custody. On Tuesday, April 20, 2021, Chauvin was convicted of all three charges laid against him—second degree unintentional murder, third degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.
Though the verdict was good news for the Boston demonstrators, the aim of the rallies was to remind people in power that there is still more to be done. Demonstrators took the announcement of the verdict to push for more police reforms, and to prompt leaders to take action for racial justice.
Demonstrations took place at South Station, Nubian Square, and the State House. The evening was filled with rain, lightning, and thunder.
According to WBUR, not many demonstrators showed up to the South Station and State House demonstrations, while the demonstration in Nubian Square garnered the participation of about 100 individuals.
At the demonstrations, protestors chanted “No Justice, No Peace, you’ve got to prosecute the police,” and “all three counts.” “All three counts” refers to the conviction of Chauvin on all three charges he faced.
The State House event was organized by Mass Action Against Police Brutality. In Nubian Square, the demonstration was organized by Monica Cannon-Grant, chief executive officer of Violence in Boston Inc. Cannon-Grant emphasized the importance of action among the people in sparking change.
"It wasn't the work of elected officials that got this," said Cannon-Grant. "It was activists and organizers and community members that got this verdict. And the Floyd family who got this verdict. So we’re going to keep protesting and keep showing up because it’s working."
The night before, Tuesday, April 20, candles were lit and placed below a mural that features George Floyd as a symbol of remembrance and honor in Nubian Square as well.
Prior to the events on Wednesday, Gov. Charlie Baker activated the National Guard. 1,000 members of the National Guard were told to stand by if local agencies requested help from the state. As of Wednesday evening, no help was requested.
Gov. Baker released a statement on April 20, 2021 regarding the Chauvin verdict.
“Nothing can reverse the pain, suffering and agony of George Floyd’s family and friends, but this decision does make clear that Officer Chauvin was not above the law,” read the statement. “He was given a fair trial, found guilty, and he will pay a price for his actions.”
Acting Mayor Kim Janey also held a press conference to discuss the verdict of the Chauvin trial.
“While I am truly grateful for a guilty verdict, I know that our work in our city and in every other city across America to advance racial justice continues,” reads Acting Mayor Janey’s statement. “I encourage the residents of Boston to engage in this work with us. Doing the work to dismantle structural racism will take all of us.”
Though Chauvin has been convicted, he has not yet been sentenced. According to NBC, there is no set sentencing date for Chauvin yet, but sentencing is expected to occur in roughly eight weeks.