BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - It was a cruel summer to some and for many of those on the front lines of the movement for change, it’s an even more cruel existence when faced with racism and injustice every day.
The reaction to the verdict in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin brought on mixed emotions for local activist Celida Soto.
“Part of me celebrated with the family that they have a semblance of peace that’s been long-awaited,” Soto said.
It had been nearly a year since George Floyd cried out begging for breath, dying under the pressure of then-police officer Derek Chauvin’s knee.
Soto wasn’t expecting Chauvin to be found guilty.
“Justice has never existed in the courtroom for black and brown people,” Soto said.
For Soto, the justice she and all of those who march with her seek isn’t just confined to a courtroom.
“Equitable access to healthcare. It is equitable access to food resources. It’s food sovereignty. It’s land sovereignty. It’s an education system that focuses on the critical thinkers that we’re rearing in our society. It’s more than just guilty, guilty, guilty,” Soto explained.
She says justice is also in recreating the system of policing.
“Justice is also recognizing that police are also using excessive force because of lack of training, not lack of training like it’s been done in the past, truly a lack of cultural competence training. And really diving into what community looks like and what these bonds mean for generations to come.”
Soto explains more about what she believes policing should look like in the web extra video below:
For local activist Onoyemi Williams the verdict was a reminder to stay focused.
Williams remained cautious saying it was important the community not get caught up in immediate gratification.
She wanted to get through sentencing and appeals before celebrating in the conclusion of the Chauvin case.
Williams said she was not in a space of celebration because injustice and racism continued in America, with the number of officer involved shootings happening locally and in Minnesota.
Williams said the battle for equality continued and so would demonstrations.
“We still have so many cases that have not made national headlines that have to be addressed. We’ll take a moment to breath and soak in this moment but we can’t stay there too long because then me become a monument and not a movement,” Williams said.
Williams did expect to see an immediate change from the verdict. She said that change would likely show in the solidarity of communities, sticking up for each other and recording injustice when they see it.