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B-N NAACP Calls For Peace When Chauvin Verdict Announced

Students holding signs at protest
Jim Mone
Students from Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis gather by U.S. Bank Stadium Monday, April 19, 2021, to protest killings by police in Minneapolis and Brooklyn Center , Minn.

Black leaders in Bloomington-Normal hope justice will be served in the Derek Chauvin murder trial, with the head of the NAACP issuing a call against violence after the verdict is announced, while a leader with Black Lives Matter said focusing on looting misses the point.Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer, faces murder and manslaughter charges for the killing of George Floyd last summer. His death helped spark a racial justice movement across the country last year.

There also was civil unrest, including in Bloomington-Normal, where police arrested about 40 people following several nights of looting after a peaceful rally last summer.

Police nationwide are bracing for more civil unrest after the Chauvin verdict is announced.

A leader with Black Lives Matter Bloomington-Normal stops short of condemning any violence that could result if the verdict sparks outrage.

Olivia Butts said the group hasn’t made plans for after the verdict. She said many protests came together organically last year, and she stopped short of condemning any violence that could arise if the verdict sparks outrage. She said many in the Black community are frustrated, and she’s uncertain how they and other community members might respond.

“When you see this much police violence and you see it on tape and you see it every single day on your social media, people are fed up,” Butts said. “They don’t feel like they can get justice anywhere else.

“I’m not saying that looting or riots give justice, but what do you do when you feel like the whole system is against you?" she said.

Linda Foster, president of the Bloomington-Normal NAACP, is calling for a peaceful response regardless of the trial's outcome.

Foster said those seeking racial justice have to stay focused on the mission.

“We have been marching and protesting in the courts of many years and we have never condoned looting, because we’ve got to stay focused” Foster said. “We need to condemn actions. Breaking a glass is not the answer. Breaking the ceiling glass is the answer.”

Foster said she's concerned if there is violence, it will take narrative away from the efforts to bring about widespread racial justice.

The jury heard closing arguments in the trial Monday.

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