A little after 5 p.m., the Minnesota jury found Chauvin guilty on all three counts — second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. Chauvin killed Floyd by pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds on May 25, 2020. The killing was caught on video and it helped spark last year’s wave of Black Lives Matter actions.
The action was organized by more than 10 organizations, including Black Voters Matter, Alliance for Police Accountability, Trans YOUniting, Black Lives Matter Pittsburgh and Southwestern PA, and Pittsburgh Feminists for Intersectionality.
“When it comes to the verdict, the reason we still came out is because it doesn’t end here,” says Tanisha Long, an organizer for the action with Black Lives Matter Pittsburgh and Southwestern PA. “I’m relieved that people finally did the right thing, but I also have a theory that we shouldn’t applaud the bare minimum. And the bare minimum for George Floyd should’ve been alive.”
Around 6:20 p.m. organizers asked Black people in attendance to come to the front and join a circle, where LaKeisha Wolf poured water as libations to symbolize that Black people are everlasting and a culmination of all those who came before them. She also poured libations while naming other Black people who have been killed by the police and asked those in the circle to name people they’ve lost while responding with “Ashe,” from the Yoruba “àṣẹ,” which Wolf translated as “let it be done.”
“I do wish that there was more people who look like me and who have been through what I have been through who can be out here with me … So what do we have to lose, outside of the comfortabilities? And if we’re not free, if we don’t have equal access, then there’s nothing else to lose,” says Dajsua Streater. During libations, she called out the name of her father, who was killed in police custody when she was an infant.
“I am grateful that [Floyd’s family] get[s] this moment, and we share this moment with them, but we do not forget that this movement is not about individuals. That this movement is about the collective. That this movement is about systemic change. Because during this trial we have had more people murdered at the hands of police,” says Fisher, referencing Daunte Wright, who was killed April 11, and Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old Black girl who was fatally shot April 20 in Columbus, Ohio as the verdict for Chauvin’s verdict was announced, and Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old boy, was shot and killed by police in Chicago March 29, the day Chauvin’s trial began.
Fisher also acknowledged the presence of state Rep. Ed Gainey (D-Lincoln-Lemington), Jerry Dickinson, and Raymond Robinson at the action, all of whom are currently running for public office, and she noted the importance of supporting “the people who support the people” while encouraging people to vote and get involved in politics.
“Today is the day of change. So as we celebrate with the family today, as we make sure we give praise for what happened today, tomorrow is a new day, and we gotta get back up and get on this grind,” says Gainey, who is currently running for mayor of Pittsburgh. “Because the only way we change this city, this nation, this country, this world is power to the people.”
Robinson, who’s running for judge of the Allegheny County Magisterial District Court this year, spoke about the need for systemic change. Dickinson, who’s running for Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District in 2022, shared his experiences with police brutality and spoke about the disproportionate over-policing of Black people in Pittsburgh.
A little after 7 p.m. the crowd began to move from Freedom Corner down Crawford Street and Pride Street to Forbes Avenue, where they marched east towards Oakland while participating in chants, including “Black lives matter here,” “You can’t stop the revolution,” and “Back up, back up, we want freedom, freedom, tell these racist-ass cops we don’t need ‘em, need ‘em.”
“I’ve been focusing this whole time on problem-solving and basically abolishing the police. I think that’s so important to take preventative measures to make sure we don’t have to do this anymore,” says Black Young & Educated co-founder Treasure Palmer, who also asks, “Why’d I have to go on my phone and see a Black man die?”
The crowd reached Flagstaff Hill where organizers had food and helped attendees arrange rides at about 9 p.m., after which people dispersed, although Long says there will be more actions planned over the summer.
Additional photos of the action and march taken by Pittsburgh City Paper photographer Jared Wickerham can be viewed below.