Local activists, law enforcement leaders respond to Chauvin verdict
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Nearly a year after George Floyd’s death sparked protests across the country, including in Wichita, a guilty verdict against the former officer in a high-profile murder trial has drawn reactions from around the world.
Tuesday, April 20, Eyewitness News spoke with some of the activists who led demonstrations in Wichita last year, as well as Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter. Both said they hope the guilty verdict keeps things peaceful in their community and that the justice system did its job with this case.
On his Facebook page, Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay echoed a similar sentiment, saying, “Justice prevailed today in the reprehensible actions of the Minnesota police officer. The Wichita Police Department is committed to continuous improvement in collaboration with our community. We care.”
Sheriff Easter said he feels relieved and hoped the guilty verdict would keep people out of the streets Tuesday night.
“When this happened last year, it caused unrest across the nation and here in Wichita. Protests that were going on in the daytime, early hours were peaceful. When it got dark, they weren’t peaceful,” Easter said.
Willie Scott Jr. organized a handful of Wichita’s peaceful protests last summer and said Tuesday’s guilty verdict is proof that demonstrations can have a real impact.
“We need to understand that peace does bring change, and if we continue with peace and unity, we can continue to tackle these issues,” he said.
Sheriff Easter said the verdict shows that the justice system works.
“Law enforcement has made mistakes, and it can cost people their lives,” he said. “And they can be held accountable for that, and I’m okay with that.”
While activists like Scott said Tuesday was a win, he believes there is a long way to go when it comes to racial justice. But he hopes this sets a precedent for future cases involving police brutality, that officers can and will face charges when necessary.
“Right is right and wrong is wrong,” he said. “So if you want to stay justified, just stay on the right side.”
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