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‘I think we still have work to do’ -- Louisville activists react to Derek Chauvin sentencing

Published: Jun. 25, 2021 at 11:21 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 25, 2021 at 11:57 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - On May 25, 2020, nine minutes and 29 seconds shook the nation. The death of George Floyd sparked protests nationwide, including in Louisville.

The death of Breonna Taylor then magnified those protests. Louisville protesters marched and rallied for months, calling for change, and for those responsible, to be held accountable.

On Friday, Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who murdered George Floyd, was handed a sentence of 22.5 years. The sentence was heard around the country, and while Chauvin’s time in prison will bring closure for some people, others like local activist and Louisville mayoral candidate Shameka Parrish-Wright said the sentence was just a small step toward change.

“I hope this sends a message to anybody that’s sworn to protect and serve,” Parrish-Wright said. “To consider all those things, to consider someone’s life, when someone tells you they can’t breathe, you believe them.”

Protests in Louisville began just three days after the unarmed Floyd was killed, but Parrish-Wright said the fight isn’t over. She said Chauvin’s sentencing sets the precedent for the future crimes of unarmed Black people being killed by police officers.

“There are so many countless families that will never get this ... attempt at justice, so I think it is a good move forward so that people can learn and grow from it,” Parrish-Wright said. “But we don’t get to determine what’s closure because he got this middle-of-the-road time. I think we still have work to do. We’re still at risk of losing more people the way we lost George Floyd.”

On Chauvin’s sentencing day, the family of Tamir Rice celebrated his 19th birthday. Rice was 12 years old when a white police officer in Cleveland, Ohio. That officer, Timothy Loehmann, claimed he thought Rice’s toy gun was a real gun. Loehmann avoided federal criminal charges.

Parrish-Wright said she hopes Rice’s family watched the Chauvin sentencing and found some measure of justice.

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