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‘Guilty on all charges!’ echoes across Leimert Park with joy and relief

A man shouts into a megaphone and holds a "Justice for George Floyd" sign
Kenneth Davis, left, an activist from Los Angeles, joins a gathering of demonstrators celebrating the news of the Chauvin verdict at the corner of Florence and Normandy Avenues in South Los Angeles.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Minutes after the verdict was announced, Barbara Morrison rolled down a sidewalk in an electric wheelchair, shouting “Guilty on all charges!” while pounding her right fist in the air.

The jazz singer, who owns a performing arts center in Leimert Park Village, rolled around the village, spreading the news to people who were eating outside or visiting stores in the busy shopping area that is filled with predominantly Black-owned businesses. The village has long been a center of Black cultural life in Los Angeles and became a meeting ground in the wake of the George Floyd killing.

Eddie Johnson, who was eating at Ackee Bamboo when Morrison rolled by, said he was both excited and relieved by the guilty verdict against former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin.

“We were praying for this, but at the same time, we had that feeling that it could probably go the other way,” the 61-year-old said.

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The Long Beach resident said that if the verdict had gone a different direction, the world’s reaction could’ve been catastrophic.

“When it first happened, it affected the whole world,” he said about the anti-racism protests last summer after Floyd’s death. “So this would’ve been worse. Enough is enough.”

In the end, Chauvin was convicted Tuesday by a jury of murdering Floyd. It took the jurors — six white, four Black, two who identify as biracial — less than 12 hours to return the verdict. He could face up to 40 years in prison.

Marie Lou was also sitting outside of Ackee Bamboo when she heard the news.

“I’m happy” with the verdict, said Lou, 26, of Koreatown. “I think it was a good thing.”

Dwanye Newton, who had been following the trial closely, said he wasn’t surprised by the guilty verdict.

“It’s kind of tough, though, because when you see the video, unless there’s something I’m missing, it’s kind of hard not to feel like it was intentional,” Newton, 58, of Long Beach said. “Maybe he didn’t think it was going to happen, but it doesn’t give you the excuse.”

He was also relieved that the verdict was different from that of the LAPD officers involved in the Rodney King beating in 1992, which sparked outrage and riots in L.A.

“We all thought, ‘You can see it. The camera don’t lie,’” he said. “But if you can go through that and they can record it … I was just hoping that it wasn’t going to be like that all over again.”

Monique Woods, 50, and her 28-year-old daughter were hosting a pop-up shop in the village to sell accessories from their online boutique when they heard people talking about the verdict. Like many, Woods at first felt relief. “It’s so much pressure,” the West L.A. resident said. “And then on top of that, I knew the young people were going to go crazy and I was so scared for them because I didn’t know how the police was going to react to it.”

Although she’s pleased with the verdict, she’s also still concerned about how people on the opposing side will react.


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