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Black community leaders in Indy ‘relieved’ by verdict

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Leaders in the Black community in Indianapolis hope the Derek Chauvin verdict leads to something greater.

More than just a verdict, they see it as a way to advance criminal justice reform. Even the fact that Derek Chauvin was guilty on all three charges is not taken for granted.

“I was excited about what I heard today,” Rev. Charles Harrison, president of the Indy TenPoint Coalition, said. “I felt relieved. I felt like it’s about time.”

“We seen something that we’ve never seen before, true justice against an officer that punished a Black man,” James Wilson, president and CEO of Circle Up Indy, said.

Harrison said he followed the trial closely. While the verdict Tuesday is not a surprise, that makes it a bit of a surprise.

“This is truly justice for Mr. Floyd and his family,” Harrison said.

Both men were concerned about what could have happened if there had been a different outcome brought back by the jury.

“I think if it would have been not guilty, it would have set the country back for decades,” Harrison said.

To Wilson, it was important not just that a guilty verdict was brought back, but that Chauvin was found guilty on each of the three charges brought against him.

“We feel that all three are important because it sends a message that when you do wrong, you will be punished,” Wilson said. “If you punished on a few things, others may think it may be right.”

Both agree the most powerful moments of the trial were those when fellow officers and even the chief of police testified against Chauvin’s actions. It’s why they hope this is not just a one-time victory but a meaningful step forward in the fight for criminal justice reform.

“The line, the blue line, was really crossed this time,” Wilson said. “I think there is long-lasting implications. I’m hoping that it’s long-lasting implications.”

“I think people can be at least a little more hopeful that there can be real system change made in this country,” Harrison adds.

Both men say all the videos available to the jury were certainly the key evidence and they have doubts there would be a similar verdict without that evidence. Still, after so many questionable criminal trial results through the years providing so much frustration to the Black community, there’s a big sense of relief.