Young people deal with emotional fallout of Derek Chauvin trial

Helping young people make sense of the Derek Chauvin trial

MINNEAPOLIS (KARE) - You might be following the murder trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin from wherever you are in the country.

He is charged with second- and third-degree murder in the death of George Floyd, as well as second-degree manslaughter.

In Minneapolis, people are right in the middle of it. That has some children and youth there feeling overwhelmed and confused.

After months of marching following the death of George Floyd, Azrie Yeager, 15, says Derek Chauvin’s trial is just too much.

“I don’t know. I’m just seeing these things too much. It’s like, I’m only 15, so like I’m just seeing this stuff nonstop,” he said.

Azrie said it’s re-traumatizing and is trying to take a step back from the TV.

“As sad as it is to say, it’s like, at this point, I’m numb. I don’t know how to feel,” he said.

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Teens like Azrie have been at the forefront of some protests against racial injustice, and now, with Chauvin’s trial underway, community groups and organizers are asking those teens to check in.

“We are really focused on Black mental health,” said Isak Douah, a community organizer who was helping lead some of those teens during the summer.

He took part in a panel put on by the Legal Rights Center to make sure teens have the right mindset moving forward.

“Young people, we have all this energy, and we feel like it’s, you know, go-go-go time all the time. And, like I said, it’s really easy to give too much and not pour back into yourself,” Douah said. “So, pacing myself and making sure I spend time with my family and loved one and taking it all in stride. You know, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

Jason Clopton, a youth counselor known as the “teen whisperer” is also helping teens cope.

“People are wondering, ‘Is this trial going to turn out the right way?’ But we have to ask ourselves, ‘What is the right way?’” he said.

Clopton said he’s seen more young clients in recent months. Many are worried about the outcome of this trial, especially if Chauvin is convicted.

“Are there going to be race wars in school where there’s tension, where they had friendships with students of opposite color and now there’s this tension between them that they don’t know how to explain?” he said. “There’s concern in multiple ways about the outcome of this trial, and we can’t look at it one-sided.”

Clopton is encouraging parents to have open conversations with their children based on the facts of this trial.

As for Azrie, he’s trying to focus on his own well-being before Chauvin’s trial ends.

“The world we live in, like, I have to be prepared for it, for it to not be a great outcome and be prepared to protest again,” he said.

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