By Kassie Simmons | April 21, 2021 at 3:54 PM EDT – Updated April 21 at 7:31 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – For a moment Tuesday night, people nationwide held their breath as the verdict for Derek Chauvin’s trial was read.
“I was at home. I watched the trial. I stopped everything I was doing,” said Dorian Cromartie, a representative for the seventh district in the National Black Leadership Caucus. “I was on pins and needles up until I heard the verdict.”
Chauvin was found guilty on all three charges. It’s described as a moment of justice for the family of George Floyd. Others say they shared in their relief.
“I felt like we are making the right steps in the right direction with everything we’re doing,” said Cromartie. “I was very, very relieved. I felt just a bit more happy about where I live at, you know.”
Cromartie doesn’t want the push for equality to end with the trial. That’s why the caucus is teaming up with Black Lives Matter Wilmington to keep the momentum going.
“There’s the George Floyd bill — Justice and Policing Act — that we hope will pass,” said Sonya Patrick, chair of Black Lives Matter Wilmington. “It passed the House and we hope it will pass the Senate and become a federal law.”
An event in front of Wilmington City Hall on Wednesday aims to educate community members on that bill. Another topic leaders want to discuss is North Carolina’s S.B. 300. That bill would establish a database to track disciplinary actions against law enforcement officers. However, a section of that bill aims at punishing anyone deemed to be involved in a riot.
“That hinders us from protesting, exercising our constitutional right that each one of us is born with,” said Patrick. “You were born with your constitutional right even if you don’t have money, a job or whatever. Your constitutional right is not something that should be played with, and it’s also a human right as well. They’re playing with that in the General Assembly with what we call the anti-protest, anti-BLM bill: S.B. 300.”
As the community gathers to educate and discuss the world around them, the organizations know this is a time for healing after the verdict. They’re focused on bringing the community together to create change moving forward.
“It’s not a protest, it’s not a riot. It’s, I guess you could say, a coming together of the minds,” said Cromartie. “People knowing and not knowing coming together and getting informed to make better decisions for the future.”
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