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Chauvin Verdict Reaction in Fort Myers: Relief and a Sliver of Hope

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Julie Glenn
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Julie Glenn
People Watch as the Verdict is Announced in the Chauvin Trial

As the nation sat riveted to the news late Tuesday afternoon for the verdict in the Derek Chauvin Trial for the murder of George Floyd, a handful of people watched it together at the Quality Life Center in downtown Fort Myers.

When the judge verified with each juror their verdict of guilty on all counts, a dozen or so people stood in silence watching a big screen TV as smiles crept up under their masks and relief washed over their shoulders with each juror’s response of “yes.”

“I’m so happy that he’s guilty,” Heiress Watkins said, “the whole jury said he’s guilty. No one said no. I think he deserves his time. All of his time and I agree he don’t need bail he needs to stay right where he is.”

When bail was denied and the handcuffs were placed on the former officer’s wrists, Rodney Jackson took it in.

”I’m just glad that he’s not out on the streets any more and he wouldn’t be able to do what he did any more,” Jackson said.

There were a few misty eyes in the skeptical crowd, and a fragile shred of optimism once the verdict was read, but still little outright joy. Bria Franklin explains why she couldn’t bring herself to watch the whole trial.

“I followed Trayvon Martin, I followed Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Rico Boyd. I followed all of these and I’m just tired. I’m tired,” Franklin said.

Franklin says the murder of Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police in her own home in Louisville, Kentucky last year, haunts her to this day.

“She looks like me, she looks like me. She was into the kind of stuff that I was into. I mean like she could have been my friend. She could have been me. That hit way close to home. Close to home,” Franklin said.

Franklin said that while justice feels sweet in this case, there is still a long way to go.

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Julie Glenn
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WGCU
A Group watch the Verdict Being Read Live at the Quality Life Center in Fort Myers

“A lot of emotions are going through my head right now.Um, I know that if the results would have came not in our favor, I wouldn’t feel safe. To be honest, it still doesn’t feel quite safe because you never know how the opposing team will react to things, but it was good. The kids need to see that.”

Heiress Watkins agrees that while she sees a step in the right direction, it’s a tiny first step in an uphill marathon.

“I think it’s starting to change. People are thinking more aware. As time goes on I think people will get more aware because we’re so stuck in our ways,” Watkins said.