As a couple sat with their oldest son and watched the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial being read, they were filled with a hope for a better America.
Jared Hobbs created a teaching moment for his biracial son when people took the streets to protest the death of George Floyd last summer. Hobbs is White and his wife is White and Latina — and they marched in support of their Black brothers and sisters.
After many conversations about dealing with their emotions and the hurt they felt, they made sure their 10-year-old was with them to watch the verdict from their home in Fort Worth, Texas.
“We got to sit with him and watch what feels like the first real step towards actual change in this country we love so much,” Hobbs said of watching the verdict with his son. “I am hopeful that he will get to enter adulthood in a country that truly values every person and seeks to ensure the equality that we all deserve. I am hopeful that today is the first day on the road to a better USA.”
Chauvin, a former Minneapolis Police officer, was found guilty Tuesday of all three charges against him in the killing of George Floyd — second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Millions of Americans nervously watched the trial — one of the most consequential cases of the Black Lives Matter era. We asked our readers how they felt about the verdict and hundreds responded in less than 24 hours.
Many said they felt like justice had been served. Others agreed this is just one step on the journey to fight systemic racism in the country.
Some of the respondents told CNN they thought that Chauvin was innocent or should have been convicted only of lesser charges. One reader said he wished Chauvin would have testified to explain his actions.
Samantha Santos said she felt numb when she heard the judge read the verdict.
Santos saw the video of Floyd’s death when it was first posted online last year and has followed the case and the trial closely. Santos is Puerto Rican and describes herself as light-skinned, and says her husband is Black.
The couple have three children — a 10-year-old boy and 8-year-old twins, a boy and a girl.
“All I want is the peace of knowing my children will one day live in a world where they won’t be shot because they are Black,” the Rochester, New York, resident told CNN.
Prior to the verdict, Santos said she didn’t think her children would get justice if something were to happen to them. She said she thinks about cases like that of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager fatally shot in 2012, and Daniel Prude, the 41-year-old man who died in the custody of Rochester Police last year.
“Why did it have to take all those deaths for us to finally get a guilty verdict?” she said. “But at the same time, we finally got a guilty verdict, but there’s still more that needs to be done.”
Santos’ thoughts were echoed by others, including Nick, an Asian American from Minnesota.
He wrote to CNN that he was happy about the Floyd family getting “the justice they deserved,” but that this shouldn’t be happening in our country. He asked CNN not to use his last name to protect his privacy.
Nick stressed the need to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, legislation now making its way through Congress.
“I don’t know what it is like to be Black as I am an Asian American, but I do know the feeling of police abuse, racial profiling, anti-Asian hate and as a minority I do stand in proud solidarity with the Black and Brown communities as the killing and abuse needs to stop,” Nick wrote to CNN. “They are human being same as everyone else in the world.”
Others felt more strongly, saying the verdict won’t change anything — it’s the makeup of our police forces that needs to change and better reflect diverse communities, said Joseph, who also requested his last name not be used in order to protect his privacy.
“The problem is the majority of the police force is White and they police minorities,” said Joseph, who said he is a Hispanic American living in San Luis Obispo, California.
He says he is “pro-police” but he believes officers need to protect everyone, not just people who look like them.
“A lot of them don’t understand the cultural differences and if they spent more time with other minorities, they’d realize there are no differences, people are people, love is love,” Joseph said.
He said he wants others to realize that not all police officers are bad people. Police officers need more training and to better understand the community they serve, he added.
“More mental screening is needed for police officers and racist attitudes need to be acted upon quickly,” Joseph wrote to CNN. “Police should be required to spend a year to assimilate with minorities, so they can understand that we are all humans and we must all care for each other.”
“It cannot be us against them anymore,” he said.
For Hobbs, this verdict was a step toward accountability. He said he hopes it paves the way for a future where his children don’t have to grow up in the same type of world.
“I’ve lived through three decades of seeing things happen this way, people not being held accountable for their actions so to finally see this moment for me, it feels like this can be the first day of a new step forward,” Hobbs said.
But for his son, who is too young to see the world through the eyes of racial injustice yet, Hobbs said he hopes he grows up to not know a “time where this happened.”