Detroit activist: Guilty veridict in Chauvin trial would be sign of equality

In a Minneapolis courtroom, a jury heard closing arguments in the Derek Chauvin trial on Monday.

Now people across the country are reflecting on the magnitude of the verdict. Pastor Maurice Hardwick, a Detroit community activist, says for the Black community a guilty verdict is a sign of equality. 

"For the African-American community we are looking for a guilty verdict," Hardwick said. "It means to our community that you respect us. I don't care what type of a person it may have been, you respect life, and you respect an African-American life just as much as you respect anyone else." 

"This trial has thrust the Black Lives Matter movement and arguably its validity, back into the public," said attorney Arnold Reed. 

Reed is a faculty member for Harvard Law School's trial advocacy workshop. He believes a crucial moment favoring the prosecution was when Chauvin did not take the witness stand. 

Reed believes the racial makeup of Hennepin County, specifically the large number of predominantly white cities- could also impact deliberations. 

"Just by the mere fact of the person being African-American in most instances, they have a different experience with police officers than whites," he said. "You contrast that with the white experience, and you are going to have views in that jury room that are going to clash."

Pastor Maurice Hardwick

Pastor Maurice Hardwick

Meanwhile, Metro Detroit attorney Ven Johnson says the prosecution did an outstanding job and says the defense had a tough case, but they only need one juror to say 'not guilty' for a mistrial. Johnson also believes several aspects of the trial are monumental. 

"In most cases, there are no criminal charges filed against the cops even when they're shooting unarmed people," Johnson said. "So the fact there are charges filed - there are murder charges filed - so that's extraordinary, and the next thing that's really extraordinary is the police force has come in and testified against the guy."

Attorney Ven Johnson

Attorney Ven Johnson

Meanwhile, Detroit Police Chief James Craig says while they embrace free speech and peaceful protests, the department is ready for any response once the jury's decision comes down. 

"I have no reason to believe that whether he's acquitted, or found guilty, that there will not be violence," Craig said. "Now is it specific to Detroit? We have no indication." 

Reed said he does not expect a quick verdict.