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Richmond 34 cautiously optimistic following Chauvin verdict: 'Yesterday's decision gave me new hope'

Posted at 4:59 PM, Apr 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-21 20:43:56-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Members of the Richmond 34 are speaking out following the guilty verdict of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd.

"Finally, finally some justice," group member Elizabeth Rice Johnson said.

"It is an outcome that we wanted, but not necessarily an outcome that we expected given the legacy of police cases in our community," group member A.J. Franklin said.

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The group is made up of former Virginia Union University students who held a sit-in at the Thalhimers department store in Richmond in 1960 to protest segregation. Leroy Bray, Jr. said that their goal was to move Black people towards equality, but that they fear progress has moved backward in the past few years.

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"Yesterday's decision gave me new hope that maybe we are going to move once again in the right direction," Bray, Jr. said.

While the group welcomed Tuesday's verdict, Ford Johnson said that the outcomes of the other officer trials in the Floyd case and other recent police shootings will continue to be a test.

"We all have to be careful to keep this thing in proportion, even though this could very well be the beginning," Johnson said.

Group members said the social justice movement sparked by Floyd's murder needed to continue the work to push for reform that points to equality.

"Not only in police reform but also in terms of eliminating the inequities in health care, in education and in the workplace," Franklin said.