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Group gathers along Monument Avenue following Chauvin verdict: 'This is huge'

Group gathers at Robert E. Lee statue
Posted at 7:17 PM, Apr 20, 2021

RICHMOND, Va. -- A group gathered on Monument Avenue at the Robert E. Lee statue on Tuesday evening following the Derek Chauvin verdict.

Cars passing by honked their horns, while some chanted 'guilty!'

On Tuesday afternoon, Chauvin was convicted of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the May 2020 death of George Floyd.

"I could feel my heart pounding through my chest," said Andre Tolleris, as he recounted the moments before the verdict was read.

Minutes later, Tolleris took to the streets, waving a Black Lives Matter flag.

"I just ran from my place in The Fan. I was running. I was screaming 'guilty!'"

Tolleris ran to the Robert E. Lee Monument. The same place that, summer of 2020, became the epicenter of protests -- but on Tuesday, it was a place of celebration.

"I’m just so excited. You have no idea how much this means for young people, for black people, for minorities everywhere. We've been looking for justice -- to see this happen -- over and over and over again," said Tolleris. "This is huge. The ramifications for this are decades into the future. There would be chaos and pandemonium in the streets tonight, but I think there’s going to be a lot of joy."

Lawrence West with BLM RVA, said while Tuesday's verdict was a victory, systemic racism was still very much ingrained in society, and the work wasn't finished.

"We are here every single day. I mean, every single day," said West."We need to look at how we can reconstruct a system that actually works for black, brown, and disenfranchised people."

West added that the next step, would be taking down the Robert E. Lee statue.

"We're not going until that comes down. and that's just it. That's the whole thing," said West.