From Minnesota to New York to Florida, Americans triumphantly flooded streets Tuesday to celebrate and mark the moment when former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted in the death of George Floyd.
The largely peaceful demonstrations came as cities across the country prepared for possible violence that cropped up sporadically in last year’s protests after Floyd’s death, a landmark incident that sparked a reckoning in the U.S. over racial inequities and police brutality.
Some cities had already activated the National Guard as the Chauvin verdict loomed; others declared states of emergency.
Chauvin, who is white, was found guilty by a jury on all three charges in the death of Floyd, who is Black: second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He could face decades in prison at his sentencing in eight weeks.
Floyd was accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill last summer and was seen on video being pinned to the ground by Chauvin’s knee for more than 9 minutes.
Minneapolis: Celebration outside courthouse, some residents flee city
A hush stretched over the dozens crowded outside the Hennepin County courthouse as the verdict was read.
“GULTY!” the crowd yelled. “All three!”
Horns begin blaring across the city as the crowd gleefully chanted Floyd‘s name. “Say his name! GEORGE FLOYD!” Some cried and hugged at George Floyd Square, the site of Floyd’s death.
Jennifer Starr Dodd, an organizer with Our Village Reunion, was in tears, embracing friends who were encouraging her to drink water. Her legs were shaking. She said the verdict gave her hope and allowed her to feel ready to heal. She said its a signal that her life and her children’s lives matter.
More:‘This means everything’: Minneapolis joyfully chants George Floyd’s name after Derek Chauvin is found guilty of murder
“I’m in shock,” she said, minutes after the verdict was read. “We matter, you know, they see us and they see our pain. Today is the beginning of the healing work.”
Ahead of the verdict, some residents left the city – which had been the center of protests and riots after Floyd’s death. When the court announced a verdict had been reached Tuesday and would be read later in the afternoon, a flood of office workers left downtown, their vehicles jammed up streets.
Thousands of police and members of the National Guard have been activated, and Guard troops carried unloaded rifles at key intersections in Minneapolis. Downtown Minneapolis was largely boarded up.
New York: Dozens rally for Floyd
Dozens of people marched from Times Square through Midtown Manhattan, snaking through the streets repeating the names of Black Americans killed by police.
“Whose streets? Our streets,” the group chanted.
A few dozen New York Police officers followed closely in tow as the group moved. At one point, the group stopped in the middle of an intersection and knelt down. “One conviction is not enough,” a man said over a loud speaker as horns honked.
Protesters held up signs reading, “Justice for George Floyd is no more cop terror,” and “this isn’t justice but it’s a start.”
More:Derek Chauvin found guilty on all counts in the murder of George Floyd
Opinion:Derek Chauvin is guilty of murdering George Floyd. Black lives do matter – this is history for America
Atlanta: Protesters armed with long guns take to streets
Several dozen protesters holding portraits of George Floyd and large flags with the words “BLACK LIVES MATTER” marched through the streets calling for changes and celebrating the verdict.
The demonstrators gathered at a mural of Floyd in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood of Atlanta and marched through the city. Some chanted “guilty, guilty” and many carried signs reading, “Jail killer cops now.” A few, wearing all-black outfits, carried handguns and rifles.
More:What are the odds Derek Chauvin is successful in appeal of guilty verdict in George Floyd murder?
After Chauvin’s guilty verdict:A trial for American policing, the struggle for public trust begins anew
Columbus, Ohio: Angry crowd gathers after police kill teen
An angry crowd gathered outside a home where a Columbus police officer fatally shot someone while responding to an attempted stabbing call. The shooting happened just as Chauvin was found guilty in Floyd’s murder.
Police received a 911 call at 4:35 p.m. about an attempted stabbing. The caller reported a female was trying to stab them, then the caller hung up. Officers responded and 10 minutes later, the person had been shot and killed by an officer.
Hazel Bryant, who said she was the aunt of the victim, told the USA TODAY Network that the person killed by police was a 15-year-old girl. The girl lived in a foster home there and got into an altercation with someone else at the home, she said.
More:Columbus police shooting updates: Aunt says teen girl killed; crowd protests
Bryant said her niece had a knife, but maintained that the girl dropped the knife before she was shot multiple times by a police officer.
Protesters with Black Lives Matter signs, megaphones and a loudspeaker joined the crowd gathered behind crime scene tape about a half-block away from the shooting scene. About 50 people had gathered by 8:30 p.m.
“We don’t get to celebrate nothing,” K.C. Taynor said through a megaphone of the Chauvin verdict. “…In the end, you know what, you can’t be Black.”
Kiar Yakita of the Black Liberation Movement, said she is not surprised that another police shooting happened. “Why did they kill this baby?” she asked aloud.
Mike Fair, 63, of the East Fair, brought an amplifier and a microphone to the scene, and expressed his anger, suggesting “there should be an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”
D.C.: Bob Marley tunes and celebrations outside the White House
Several dozen protesters rallied at Black Lives Matter Plaza, just across the street from the White House, to celebrate the guilty verdict. The gathering featured Bob Marley tunes blaring out of speakers and smiling protesters.
Meika Polanco, 48, said she wished more people came out to celebrate the verdict at the plaza. “Everyone has to mark this moment in their way.”
She and friend Jenny Baca, 38, have been attending protests since June but stopped coming after Joe Biden became president. The guilty verdict in the Chauvin trial brought them out.
“It’s a first step,” Polanco said. “It shouldn’t have taken this much to get one conviction but we’re thankful for it. We’re hoping it’s the beginning of a sea change.
“Like his family said, justice would be George Floyd is alive,” she said. “We’re not going to celebrate putting one more person in prison but we are going to celebrate that the people on the jury saw what the rest of the world saw. “
The plaza was a central area for protests after Floyd’s death last year and is home to the intersection cleared by law enforcement before President Donald Trump’s infamous photo op with a Bible outside St. John’s Episcopal Church, which was damaged by a fire during the protests.
“I was overjoyed. I was overwhelmed,” said Cheria Askew, 43 a Norfolk, Va. native who has lived near Washington since an Army assignment stationed her at the Pentagon. “There were mixed emotions. I didn’t know what the verdict would be. I was expecting just a not guilty on the murder charges and at least just him getting the manslaughter charges.
“For him to be guilty on all three charges, that’s big.”
Contributing: Ryan Miller, Trevor Hughes, Daniel Wolken, Chelsey Cox and Gabe Lacques of USA TODAY; Mark Ferenchik, The Columbus Dispatch