LANCASTER, Pa. — Local activists are breathing a sigh of relief, while also still grieving, after former police officer Derek Chauvin’s murder conviction in the killing of George Floyd.
Protests erupted around the globe after Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020. Jessica Lopez, a member of the group Unapologetic 717, spearheaded calls for change in Lancaster. She said her heart dropped when she heard news of the guilty verdict, but their work is far from over.
“You can’t have enough justice when you have endless amounts of lives that are lost, when they’re still being murdered, like look at Daunte Wright,” Lopez said. “There’s so much that needs to be done, but this is a start.”
Lopez is currently working with state lawmakers on bail reform to eliminate cash bail and give defendants equal opportunities to afford court costs and attorney fees.
In response to Floyd’s death, John Maina started an organization called C.R.A.S.H—Collective Resistance Acting in Solidarity for Humanity. The organization is working to revolutionize the criminal justice system and will collaborate with the community to address a number of issues including Wealth Inequality, Health Care Accessibility, Behavioral Health Services, and so much more.
“I am personally grieving because a man is still dead,” Maina said. “I want to personally say Rest In Peace to George Floyd. I want to personally say to his family and the Minneapolis community that we’re thinking of you and just stay strong.”
Many activists hope Chauvin’s guilty verdict is a turning point in the country and they are cautiously optimistic that they will find a path forward to equal protection. They believe the millions of people who protested last year, standing up and speaking out for racial equality, helped get the nation to this moment and will continue to work on reform with local police and elected officials.
“We as advocates, we as people who love our community, who love people that look like us, who love people who don’t look like us, who love people who like our ideals and who don’t like our ideals, we’re here to fight for you and will continue to do that,” Maina said.