Protesters Take to the Streets to Celebrate and Continue the Fight after Derek Chauvin is Found Guilty


Natalie Colby

Rae Duckworth speaks about the guilty verdict for former police officer Derek Chauvin at the Salt Lake City Public Safety Building on April 20, 2021. (Photo by Natalie Colby | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Natalie Colby and Kayleigh Silverstein

After deliberating for just over 10 hours on April 20, 2021, a Minneapolis jury found former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murdering George Floyd. The news came almost 11 months after a teenage girl recorded the officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, sparking international outrage and protests across all 50 states. 

Chauvin was convicted on the following charges: second-degree unintentional murder, second-degree manslaughter and third-degree murder. 

Prior to the guilty verdict being read, Utah Against Police Brutality and Black Lives Matter Utah were planning a protest regardless of results. 

People met at 6 p.m. at the Salt Lake City Public Safety Building, which was surrounded by metal barriers. 

In front of the building, Rae Duckworth, cousin of Bobby Duckworth who was killed by police in 2019, and Lex Scott, founder of Black Lives Matter Utah, led the crowd in chants including, “Black Lives Matter, every single day,” and “no justice, no peace.” The crowd also cheered several times in response to the verdict. 

After chants, a few speakers took the megaphone and shared their personal experiences with police or how they felt upon hearing the verdict. 

“If we didn’t have a pandemic and everybody wasn’t trapped at home, watching TV and watching their social media, I feel like George Floyd would’ve been another Black man who was overlooked by America,” said Mario Mathis, a member of BLM Utah and the Utah Black History Museum. 

Many speeches emphasized how the guilty verdict does not mean protests should stop. 

“Justice would have been George Floyd still being alive,” Mathis said. “Justice would have been George Floyd not being brutalized by police, much less murdered.”

The crowd then marched from the public safety building to 300 West 800 South, where there are murals of several victims of police brutality. The murals began with a painting of George Floyd which was then surrounded by faces of other victims of police brutality in Utah, including Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal. 

At the murals, more people spoke about the meaning of the verdict and what they plan to do moving forward. 

“This rally is a call to action for the following demands: community control over police policy; budgets and disciplinary measures; all abusive cops need to be convicted; and all investigations [need to] be conducted by a civilian-lead counsel,” said Adrian, a member of Utah Against Police Brutality, who wanted to keep their last name anonymous. 

Adrian continued on to demand the abatement of homeless encampments comes to an end.

“It is critical that all of us who are done with police getting away with racist murders stay in the streets and make it clear that we expect nothing less than the conviction and jailing of all killer cops,” they said.

Ricky Mcgee from Los Angeles said while celebration is in order, it is important to not get tired of the fight. 

“As African Americans, it’s very serious for us. It’s very serious for us because we can be killed at the snap of a finger,” Mcgee said. “I would implore every individual to please listen to this: we cannot get tired. We must maintain momentum.”

Salt Lake City police officers did not interact with protesters, however, police cars could be seen blocking off streets while they marched through the city.

The protest concluded with a prayer from Carl Moore, co-founder of Salt Lake City Air Protectors, and a reminder from someone in the crowd that Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old Black girl from Columbus, Ohio had just been shot and killed by police at 4:30 p.m. on April 20, 2021. 


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