Logo
Sound journalism, grounded in facts and Biblical truth | Donate

Pastors hope for “small steps to healing” after Chauvin verdict

Two Twin Cities pastors say they’re talking about what’s next and praying for peace


A demonstrator places flowers at a memorial outside Cup Foods as supporters gather to celebrate the murder conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin Tuesday. AP Photo/John Minchillo

Pastors hope for “small steps to healing” after Chauvin verdict

One-year-old Reynaldo enjoys his pacifier and plays serenely on the beige carpet, unaware of the tension in the room. His grandpa, Pastor Terrell Walter of Beacon of Hope Church, sits on a couch across from him, next to his sleeping dogs. He fixes his eyes not on the boy but on the television screen beyond. He says his heart is thumping.

He watches as Judge Peter Cahill reads the verdict finding former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, 45, guilty of all three charges against him in the 2020 death of George Floyd: second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. Walter, who is black, lets out a deep breath: “That’s good. That’s very good.”

In the hours after Cahill read the jury’s verdict inside the downtown courtroom, crowds gathered across Minneapolis—including the site where Floyd died last May after Chauvin knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes—to weep, shout, and embrace. Walter’s immediate reaction was more tempered.

“OK, this is a victory, but it’s not a victory,” he tells me. “Someone is still dead, someone is going to prison for a long time, and two families are still really hurting. We have a long way to go.”

It took jurors 10 hours of deliberation over two days to reach their verdict Tuesday following a trial that began in late March. After protests that turned to riots that turned to fiery chaos following the 46-year-old Floyd’s death last year, police and National Guardsmen had locked down the city, especially after a police officer killed Daunte Wright, who was black, on April 11 in nearby Brooklyn Center.

Walter lives just blocks away from where Wright was shot. He planned to call his friends shortly after the verdict, both black and white, to ask what they plan to do to make things better in their community: “In other words, what difference will this verdict make to you personally?”

In the minutes after Judge Cahill read Chauvin’s verdict, Walter went from saying he felt numb, to talking excitedly about the need for changes in laws, to shedding tears. He switched to preaching mode, pointing his finger to make a point, saying all people—black and white, police and civilians—are sinners who need saving. “But even with the verdict, the change needs to start with us,” he said. “With me.”

In this image from video, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is taken into custody Tuesday as attorney Eric Nelson, left, watches.

In this image from video, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is taken into custody Tuesday as attorney Eric Nelson, left, watches. Court TV via AP, Pool

He switches tracks: “You have to understand, history has been disappointing for the African American. I mean, we have hundreds of years we’re talking about.” He quickly adds he wishes the black community was more focused on preventing blacks from brutalizing each other, because more black people kill blacks than the police do. He mentioned a 7-year-old girl shot to death while in a McDonald’s drive-thru in Chicago on Sunday. Walter says he doesn’t see Black Lives Matter doing anything to solve black-on-black murders.

Still, Walter is hopeful. Behind him is a large framed quotation of Numbers 6:24-26: “The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift His countenance upon you and give you peace.” That’s what Walter and his wife are praying for.

“I just hope Chauvin is convicted—not just talking judicially, but spiritually,” Walter’s wife, Marquita, said. “I hope something changes in his heart.”

A person reacts near Cup Foods after a guilty verdict was announced at the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin Tuesday for the 2020 death of George Floyd.

A person reacts near Cup Foods after a guilty verdict was announced at the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin Tuesday for the 2020 death of George Floyd. AP Photo/Morry Gash

Over in St. Paul, Pastor Sammy Watkins watches the verdict at Union Gospel Mission with his classroom of eight men—six black and two white—who are staying at the mission and participating in a Bible study. They sit in black chairs at white tables facing a big-screen TV.

One man had an iPad open from which they heard cheers erupt from people on Minneapolis streets. A few seconds later they heard on TV the guilty verdicts. There was no cheering among the men, though. Just stunned silence.

“Relief and disbelief,” Watkins told me later. “That’s what I felt. You could breathe again. This huge burden was off me. Our city and nation will stay intact.”

Watkins then asked each man his thoughts. James, a 77-year-old black man who’d served 27 years in prison and who says he saw a black man die from a police beating when he was 10 years old, says it made him feel like as an African American he still has value.

Another black man, Janiero, says it gave him hope. Ron, whose brother died at the hands of police 12 years ago, says he’ll have hope when he sees whether Chauvin gets a just sentencing.

Watkins says one of the two white men in the group seemed disconnected and wouldn’t talk about the verdict, and the other said if black people would just obey the police they wouldn’t get killed. Watkins had to intervene so arguing didn’t derail the conversation, but he told me he has noticed many white men at the mission don’t understand what Chauvin’s trial meant to African Americans.

With his men, Watkins prayed for Derek Chauvin and his family. “At the end of the day, there are no winners,” he said. “Only small steps to healing.”


Sharon Dierberger

Sharon is a correspondent and reviewer for WORLD. She is a World Journalism Institute and Northwestern University graduate. She has served as a university teacher, clinical exercise physiologist, homeschooling mom, businesswoman, and Division 1 athlete. She resides in Stillwater, Minn., with her husband, Bill.

COMMENT BELOW

Please wait while we load the latest comments...

Comments

Please register, subscribe, or login to comment on this article.


Big Jim

Not having sat on the jury and heard all the evidence, I can't make an informed decision about Mr. Chauvin's guilt or innocence on the various charges. One thing I can say with confidence, however, is that this case is very typical of how The Left operates: emphasize situations that they believe will further their Agenda and ignore situations that they do not believe will give them the desired push to achieve their utopian Marxist outcome. Why are we all talking about this case? There have been countless injustices to people of all colors, creeds, persuasions and religions in the meantime. Because The Left chose this case to advance The Agenda. Moving the ball down the field ever closer to totalitarian control.

This country doesn't have a systemic racism problem. This country has a sin problem.

Laura WBig Jim

Couldn't it have both problems? After all, racism is a kind of sin. And I think it's at least highly plausible that there are still some systems in our country that have been shaped by sinful people in racist ways. (Though I agree that the way the left frames these issues is often unhelpful at best.)

Big JimLaura W

I agree that racism is a sin. It is a combination of hate and pride. And there are certainly some racist people in America that do racist things. However, I am just not seeing a lot of evidence that America has systems in place designed to oppress black people. That was true 160 years ago with slavery and it was true 60 years ago with Jim Crow and segregation. But with the implementation of the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, Fair Housing laws, EEOC, Affirmative Action, the Great Society, MBE hiring processes, etc, etc, I think the systems have been addressed. Blacks are or have been represented at all levels in our society including entertainment, sports, academia, corporate world, the Supreme Court, Congress, Attorney General of the US, Vice President and President of the United States. The median income of blacks in America is higher than any country on earth. Many black people from other countries long to immigrate to the US. This does not look to me like a picture of a systemically racist country like, say, South Africa during the apartheid years.

This whole Critical Race Theory narrative is being ginned up by the Marxists so they can tear the system down in order to "build back better" (i.e. create a collectivist society where they rule with an iron fist and a steel-toed boot.

Laura WBig Jim

Yes, some black people have done quite well for themselves in the US, and yes, many of them have benefited by being members of one of the most economically successful countries on earth. But we're still only a generation away from when black people could be killed by a mob in broad daylight and the authorities would do nothing. So I wouldn't be too quick to assume that there's nothing left to fix now. Sometimes the left manages to say some true things in between the overblown rhetoric, and I think we'd do well to consider whether there's anything that does need still changing, rather than rejecting the idea out of hand.

Salty1Laura W

It is dishonest to say this was the whole picture in America.

My Two Cents

I think it is a dangerous precedent to use this particular case to vilify or defend all cops, compare similar cases with different outcomes, or use this as a generalization of what justice and racism is or isn't in our culture. For better or for worse, our court system is set up to (ideally) try an individual on the charges against him. A court, or a panel of jurists, are sworn to weigh the evidence before them without influence of prejudice, prior knowledge of the case, or personal opinion. I wasn't there, and did not view the evidence presented, but it seems to me the jury ruled correctly IN THIS CASE. The trouble with a high profile situation, the media voices are loud, the outcry is raised, the shouting and banner waving silences the voice of reasonable consideration. A court case becomes an episode of The Price is Right. The juror faces a decision, and he gazes at his mentors in the television audience and reads their cues to decide what to bid. Cheering or booing follows the winner or loser who bids the wrong amount. Court cases have become game shows. THAT side won the last xx number of times, so it's time for OUR side to win. Yeah! One victory! It's a start, now let's convict the next cop! And so on.
I'm sure there are any number of times when the defendant was wrongly convicted, or wrongly acquitted. We have an appeal process that favors the defendant, as it should be.

Just because I never have personally experienced racism does not mean there isn't racism. Just because a few cops are bad doesn't mean all cops are bad. Just because I have only had positive encounters with law enforcement officers doesn't mean that someone else has not.

I have looked back at the famous OJ trial of the 90's and remember feeling aghast when they read the not guilty verdict. I can't help but think that was a reactionary verdict to "pay back" all the times blacks were discriminated against, retaliate against the LAPD (that had a horrible reputation at the time), and was exacerbated by an inept judge who was glassy eyed over his new-found celebrity status. Sure, I'll allow cameras in the court room. What could possibly go wrong? What went wrong, was the three ring circus that ensued. In the end, two people were still dead and nobody was ever found guilty, because the murderer was acquitted for the greater good of equality for the oppressed race.

Rather than second guess the jurors, I'd recognize what an impossible situation they were in. Rule one way, and fear fire and death threats. Rule the other way and face scorn and ridicule over their motives. They couldn't win, and they are our peers. They are citizens drafted into civic duty for which they didn't volunteer. I would like to hereby extend my gratitude for their service. They are veterans of a war none of us are equipped to fight. And yet, they stepped forward and didn't move heaven and earth to avoid serving. And let us pray for the ultimate outcome: salvation for those whose lives are eternally separated from Christ. Let's pray for Chavin, members of the Floyd family, members of the jury, and yes, even the rioters. May they know the vastness of God's love, His desire for their souls, and their own need for a Savior and Redeemer.

Nanamiro

I'm so confused by this verdict. When I saw a video of a white man being knelt on by a cop a few years ago, complaining he couldn't breathe, leading to his death, there was no national outcry of police brutality or racism. But when it happened to Floyd, there was.
I truly hope justice was served here. I truly hope these verdicts were not made in order to keep America's cities from burning down and juror's lives safe (though those are serious considerations. But I wouldn't call it justice then). Is justice still blind? Shouldn't it be?

JBUR2466

I do not understand why when black men try to escape or avoid custody of the police and get killed there is no moral to the story of respecting the police. George Floyd said "I can't breath" while he was in the back seat of the police vehicle, before he tried to escape. They aren't even sure what caused his death. It seems likely to me that the newspaper threat of exposing the names of the jurors and politicians urging people to riot if the "wrong" verdict was given had more to do with the verdict than facts.

The law there must be different than in Washington State because here a person could not be convicted of three death crimes unless three people died.

Soldier for the King

I am utterly stunned when I read headlines such as this. Especially, from those who claim to follow our Lord. If you believe that evil can somehow be appeased by our political correctness and sacrificing people to the gods, you are either an apostate, or baby believer. We can stop our nation from crumbling if we will just go along to get along. You will not find that anywhere throughout Scripture. It s tragic to believe otherwise.

BFRA3599

Think about the possible deliberation in the jury room....
Juror 1. “I don’t know if he’s guilty, the defense made some good points.”
Juror 2. “You have to convict him. If you don’t, there will be rioting in the streets. Even your own home might get burned down.”
Juror 1. “Oh right, guilty!”

So much for justice.

Laura W

I was relieved to see the news too. It's not really something to celebrate, but there have to be consequences when a human being is treated the way George Floyd was.

NanamiroLaura W

Here's a man being treated very similarly in 2016. Knelt on for 14 minutes. No cities burned. No protests, looting or murder done in the name of police brutality or racism. No murals, fancy funerals or martyrdom for this human being:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_c-E_i8Q5G0

Laura WNanamiro

Yes, if it's wrong in one case, it's wrong in the other. But we do have to start somewhere, don't we?

Salty1Laura W

Or you could say, “If it is not wrong in the one case it is not wrong in the other!”

Salty1

You don’t put a white police officer away to make black people feel better. The truth was that George Floyd had 3 times the amount of fentanyl needed to kill a man in his system. George Floyd would be alive today had not he taken the excessive amount of fentanyl. The truth hurts but it is still the truth.

DPET2238Salty1

I agree that Floyd could have done a number of things to change the outcome of his situation. However, Chauvin also could have done a number of things to change the outcome, too. Chauvin was the officer in charge and he was directing the officers. He did not need to kneel on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes. Three officers should have been able to restrain Floyd without that. They could have tried to revive him while waiting for EMTs to arrive. The officers could have done things differently and Floyd may have still died, but the outcome of the trial may have gone a different way.

Salty1DPET2238

He did not kneel on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes but moved to his shoulder. He had good reason to hold him down because Chuavin is a small man where Floyd was a large man. The crowd prevented the ambulance from coming and distracted the police from the situation with Floyd. I think this trial was a modern day lynching with the politicians and violent mob determining the outcome.

Tom HanrahanSalty1

First, you can think what you want, but voicing this kind of opinion (lynching) sows great division.
Second, did the defense argue that it was his neck, not his shoulder? If so, did they argue it effectively (not clobbered in cross examination)? If someone kneels on my shoulder as opposed to my neck, I can breathe just fine.

Salty1Tom Hanrahan

It is time to stand up against the mob to save America! What was a lynching? Wasn’t it the racist mob demanding their version of justice? So exactly how is this any different than with Chuavin? You have the racist mob demanding that Chuavin be put away or else they will burn down the country. Essentially, you have the race centric mob dictating what is justice and you have many Democrats going along with this modern day lynching. Let us not be PC and pretend it is anything different.

Everybody on that court knew what they were supposed to do - get a guilty verdict.

I should also point out that a police officer did give Floyd mouth to mouth resuscitation prior to the medics giving him care.

Tom HanrahanSalty1

DEF of LYNCHING - (of a mob) kill (someone), especially by hanging, for an alleged offense with or without a legal trial
- The jury and judge did not murder Chauvin; nor did they do it without a trial
- misusing vitriolic words stokes division, and is ugly. We should be able to disagree with a verdict without this. Jesus' response to injustice was to point people to the gospel (Luke 13)

Salty1Tom Hanrahan

“Lynching is an extrajudicial killing by a group. It is most often used to characterize informal public executions by a mob in order to punish an alleged transgressor, punish a convicted transgressor, or intimidate. It can also be an extreme form of informal group social control, and it is often conducted with the display of a public spectacle for maximum intimidation. Instances of lynchings and similar mob violence can be found in every society.”

Looking over the definition of lynching, I would say that the Derek Chuavin trial was very close to a lynching as I stated before. Now you may take issue that the man wasn’t directly killed by hanging, but we have yet to see how long he lasts in prison. I understand that police that go to prison don’t last long, but we will see. The mob has already burned down cities multiple times, killed black and white people in these acts, and used this incident to help steal an election and you are going to lecture me about using “vitriolic” words that are ugly. How ridiculous!

In looking over Luke 13 I see Jesus calling out the Jewish leaders for their hypocrisy (verse 15). I am also calling out the hypocrisy I see in this trial where some PC Christians feel obliged to go along with the hypocrisy.

You may see it differently than I do, but I have every right to call it out as I see it. It is called “free speech”, that some want to deny others by using the PC-language straight jacket.

Tom HanrahanSalty1

Trying to apply James 3:17 to myself: "the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. "; I will concede your points likely have much merit, and maybe it is me who just isn't seeing that. Blessings to all of you as we work through these troubling issues.

Salty1Tom Hanrahan

You need to take the passage in context. It was addressed to the church and in chapter 4 he references the divisions in the church and the cause being their own selfish interests. The writer then says, “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God (NIV).” When we pick up the world’s narrative, pretending Chuavin was some racist, justifying burning cities down, denying the man real justice, demanding his conviction, and essentially destroying our nation, then I would say that is friendship with the world. I am not against attempting to have peace but it has to be real peace and not a fake one that has it’s goal to destroy this nation and erase our our Christian heritage. Peace to you my friend.

plumbbetter

There is no peace with Marxism. We must stop hyphenating America.

Tom Hanrahanplumbbetter

This article was not about Marxism.

Salty1Tom Hanrahan

The BLM leadership that was stoking the racism narrative are Marxists trying to use race to bring revolution to America. Wake up! They are the ones burning down black neighborhoods and hurting the black businesses. If you really care about blacks, then you will speak out against this injustice!