By Matthew Rodriguez
Pasadena Weekly Deputy Editor
Allen Edson was standing in line at the Oh Happy Days grocery store in Altadena when he heard the fateful words that he hoped for from the Derek Chauvin trial. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.
“I clapped. It was a very emotional time. I didn’t expect that to happen,” said Edson, the president of the NAACP chapter of Pasadena.
“Police have been able to kill or brutalize the lives of people and they should’ve been prosecuted, and they hadn’t been in the past. This is a glimmer of hope, maybe.”
Last week, Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was convicted on all three charges of manslaughter, second-degree murder and third-degree murder surrounding the death of George Floyd. The videos of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck drew widespread outrage last May and sparked protests around the world.
In Pasadena, many celebrated the conviction and hoped that the verdict was a sign of better things to come.
“My first reaction was one of hopefulness because the verdict represents a ray of hope in this whole struggle of equity and proper community policing,” said Pastor Kerwin Manning, president of the Community Clergy Coalition.
“I think people of color had lost faith in the justice system when it comes to these types of cases and incidents. Over and over again we see offices acquitted or not even taken through the process, but Minneapolis showed us that it’s possible.”
Many around the world were shaken by the videos of Floyd pleading for his life. The video brought tears to Heavenly Hughes, a resident and co-founder of the My Tribe Rise, grieving as she saw another Black man dying at the hands of the police. As she heard the verdict, she was overjoyed, with tears flowing down her face once again.
“I was overjoyed with tears in my eyes feeling like this is the first time I’ve witnessed, in my lifetime, justice being served,” said Hughes. “It was an amazing memorable moment that I’ll never forget for the entirety of my life.”
However, with the fanfare that accompanied the celebrations, many understood that there was still a lot of work to be done.
“We’re hoping that we can gain the same traction and momentum here in Pasadena with the cases that are outstanding locally,” Manning added.
Activists in Pasadena are still hoping to find a similar outcome for the death of Anthony McClain.
“My whole thought process is we are thankful for the jury in the Derek Chauvin,” said Hughes. “(They) recognized he was a murderer. Now it’s time for us to recognize and hold accountable those who murdered Anthony McClain.”
McClain, a Black man, was fatally shot by Pasadena police after fleeing during a routine traffic stop. Authorities claimed that McClain was armed and found a firearm at the scene. The death sparked outrage and grief in the community and spurred the creation of the police oversight commission in the city.
“I actually officiated and did the eulogy of Anthony McClain’s funeral,” said Manning. “The painful experience for me is seeing the funerals of these people and seeing the looks on the faces of their children and loved ones, knowing that they’ll never see them again.
No charges have been brought forward in the McClain case; however, Ben Crump, the famed civil rights attorney who handled the civil case for Floyd’s death, has picked up the case for McClain’s death.
“We’re not done yet. There’s still work to be done,” said Hughes.