Although the National Guard was called in to support the Chicago Police Department and many downtown businesses were boarded up; the mood among protestors remained celebratory after the jury delivered a guilty verdict.
Shortly after 4 PM Tuesday, the jury delivered a guilty verdict on all three charges to former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin. The trial was followed closely not only in the U.S. but across the world.
When the charges against Chauvin were announced yesterday, the mood in Chicago, and across the nation was primarily one of relief and a feeling that justice had been done.
In anticipation of looters that highjacked last summer's protests, Mayor Lori Lightfoot had requested Gov. J.B. Pritzker to send in 125 members of the Illinois National Guard to help support Chicago police. Lightfoot told reporters on Tuesday, "Don’t test us. … Don’t test us. … Don’t test us, because we are ready."
Lightfoot wanted the city prepared for the worst but had said that she hoped the extra protection would not be needed. “If we need them, they’re here. My hope is we will continue to see what we really have seen since last fall, which is peaceful expression of peoples’ emotions [and] First Amendment rights. But my hope is we won’t need to deploy the National Guard.”
Many downtown businesses had boarded up early Tuesday morning and continued throughout the day.
But in the end, neither the plywood nor the National Guard was needed. Chicago stayed peaceful after the verdict.
Lightfoot expressed her relief at the verdict on Twitter, saying, "I join my fellow Chicagoans, Americans, and human beings across the world as justice is being served in Minneapolis today."
At Daley Plaza, a small crowd had gathered while waiting to hear from the jury. The rally was organized by the Chicago Alliance Against Racism and Political Repression. When the verdict was read, the crowd expressed relief. Yet, the common sentiment was that there was still much work to be done.
The Chicago Alliance group had also planned a rally for Wednesday morning at the Thompson Center during the Chicago City Council meeting to raise awareness for the Empowering Communities for Public Safety ordinance to be passed. The ordinance would make policing more of a community effort and hold officers accountable for their actions.
According to the group's website, "The Empowering Communities for Public Safety ordinance will give communities a decisive role in shaping public safety in their neighborhoods and determining the authority they have over the CPD, and create a pathway for community control of the police." You can read the full ordinance here.
Another Chicago activist group, Black Youth Project 100, has also said the work is not done. Kwyn Townsend-Riley of the group told CBS2 Chicago, “Now it feels that people are finally actually opening their ears to hear the chants and to hear the cries.”
John Catanzara, Chicago's Fraternal Order of Police President, told ABC7 Chicago that Chauvin's guilty verdict sends a message to police not to go over the line, or they will be tried and convicted.
Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama released a statement after the verdict saying that, "While today's verdict may have been a necessary step on the road to progress, it was far from a sufficient one. We cannot rest."
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke with George Floyd's family on a phone call after the verdict. In a video released by the family attorney, Ben Crump, the president was heard saying, "Nothing is gonna make it all better but at least, God, now there's some justice."