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Bakersfield community members, local leaders react to guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial

"We need justice because black bodies matter too.”
Posted at 6:10 PM, Apr 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-21 11:54:06-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — As we waited to hear the verdict of the trial against Derek Chauvin, 23ABC was in downtown Bakersfield with what our local African American leaders were saying Tuesday night as well as other Kern County residents.

There were a lot of emotional reactions to the guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin including here in Kern County but most are using that emotion as motivation moving forward.

Eyes across the country glued to a Minneapolis courtroom as three guilty verdicts were read in the trial of Derek Chauvin causing emotional reactions including here in Bakersfield.

Arleana Waller with the MLK Initiative says she was relieved that Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts.

“All I could do is cry at that moment because I think this was a side for all Americans I think we all stood on the side of law and knew this man was guilty.”

Patrick Jackson with the Kern County's NAACP also expressing a sense of relief.

"Finally, an opportunity to have some type of justice, especially for the Floyd family.”

However, Jackson says the fight against injustice does not end here.

“I think it's important that we celebrate some justice for George Floyd, but also remember that there's a long fight ahead of us to actually create change for a safer community that we can all feel safe for our children and grandchildren and future generations.“

But local leaders weren't the only residents following the trial.

23ABC IN-DEPTH: Derek Chauvin found guilty on all counts

“I was actually keeping track with most of the trial I was very content with what the jury decided, definitely police need to be held accountable as well,” said Ricardo Escobar, a Bakersfield resident.

One resident agrees with the NAACP that more work needs to be done.

“There are areas that we still need work in, in education closing the wealth gap, making sure all areas of our lives as African Americans in this country are safe and that we have all the same opportunities as everyone else,“ said Bianca Haynes.

Haynes says she was content with the verdict but admits she was shocked to hear the outcome due to past experiences.

"When it comes to this America's track record when it comes to the treatment of African Americans and us being killed has not always been favorable.”