Lawyers who pursue police misconduct say they hope Chauvin verdict is a watershed moment
SAN FRANCISCO - People who gathered in San Francisco's Mission District said they hope the Derek Chauvin verdict is a turning point.
"This is systemic, this is systemic," chanted a few dozen people on Tuesday evening, holding signs at 24th Street and Mission that reflected the guilty verdicts against the former police officer in Minneapolis who killed George Floyd.
"It's baked into the very system," exclaimed the woman leading the chant.
While celebrating guilty verdicts, advocates say it's important to remember those who died before and after George Floyd.
"While the trial was going on, Daunte Wright was murdered, Adam Toledo was murdered," shouted another speaker.
Last summer's seismic response to George Floyd's murder moved the needle on police reform.
Communities across the country are demanding change within local law enforcement.
Advocates want to make sure that momentum continues.
"We are in a fight to make sure that stuff like George Floyd does not happen again," said Charnelle Rusf, a 6th-grade teacher attending the rally. "Yes there has been justice, but George Floyd is still dead."
Lawyers who pursue police misconduct say they hope this is a watershed moment.
"I think the videos and body cameras are making all the difference, " said civil rights attorney Adante Pointer. "And I liken it to the civil rights movement when television brought the dogs, the water hoses, and the beatings into our homes, we could no longer deny what was taking place."
And what cues might local police and prosecutors take away?
"District attorneys see that they can prosecute a bad cop and win if they do it aggressively," said longtime attorney John Burris. "Hopefully some prosecutors will take those cases and if you prosecute enough officers you will change the behavior of all of them because no one wants to get prosecuted."
Police agencies are already adopting new policies on de-escalation and crisis intervention.
But the United States has about 18,000 law enforcement entities.
"We have our own work cut out for us and we have had our own share of cases that have caused pain," said San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott, who supports national standards like those proposed in Congress. "So we don't have another incident like this, not in our city, not in any other city in the nation, that's the hope."
As a Black police chief, Scott is also heartened by how youth have mobilized against systemic racism.
"So many young people were part of the movement, and for people like me that was very encouraging and it gave us all hope."
San Francisco's gathering ended early and without a march, everyone savoring the win, but vowing to keep pressure on.
"May this not extinguish the anger and frustration that we feel as a community," said Jon Jacobo, a Mission District activist. "May it continue to ignite us as we move forward to change."