Calling the guilty verdict for Derek Chauvin a “wake-up call for the community,” the Newtown Florist Club said it wants to host a community rally and further conversations on public policy considerations around law enforcement.
“It is a call to action that signals why we cannot stop here, why we cannot breathe easier, why we cannot slow down and why we cannot turn around,” the Rev. Rose Johnson, the executive director of the civil rights group, said in a statement after the verdict. “There is such a great need for people of good will in our city/county to commit to making sure that, ‘We will do better. We will be better.’ This is our prayer for that united as a community we can always be working to be better.”
Chauvin, the officer charged in the death of George Floyd in May, was convicted on charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
A widely circulated video showed Chauvin with his knee on and around Floyd’s neck for several minutes.
Sentencing is not for another two months.
Newtown said it was planning to hold the community rally at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 29, at the Midtown Greenway by Grove Street. Johnson said it was in response to the Chauvin conviction and in support of the families of others who have recently died during police interactions across the country, including Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo and Ma’Khia Bryant.
Following Floyd’s death, the club hosted a pair of open-air conversations during the summer that focused on reforms in law enforcement including more training, body cameras and greater transparency.
Johnson said it was important to continue educating the community on the gains that have been made and the good things that have come out in the community since the beginning of the initiative.
“The other thing that is important for this process right now is the reality that we have an opportunity to learn from every single national case that becomes part of the public discourse,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the club was also planning a series of virtual community conversations on the following Thursday evenings.
“If we don’t learn from the mistakes that other departments unfortunately make, then somehow or another we might end up experiencing those or similar events in our community,” Johnson said. “If we continue to work at these things and talk to each other and communicate — share concerns, fears and look at how these opportunities through the tragedies of others can help make this community better.”
The schedule provided to The Times lists the dates as May 6, May 13 and May 20, all at 6 p.m.