‘Let Us Breathe’ founder describes bittersweet feelings after guilty verdict in Chauvin trial

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Founder of Abilene nonprofit ‘Let Us Breathe’ says she felt relief after jurors handed down a guilty verdict in the murder trial of the former Minneapolis police officer now convicted of killing George Floyd last year.

Shawnte Fleming woke up Tuesday morning to a feeling of anxiety, knowing the Derek Chauvin trial could be ending that day.

“We were all on edge today just waiting, waiting, waiting all day long,” said Fleming.

While a guilty verdict came as a relief, Fleming says it did not bring a true feeling of joy as it came at the expense of a human life.

“[It was a] painfully earned verdict,” said Fleming. “I hate that Mr. George Floyd had to lose his life for this awareness to come about.”

‘Let Us Breathe’ formed in the months after Floyd’s murder as the height of the racial unrest spanning across the nation. Since its inception, the organization has played a great role in uniting local black community members. However, Fleming says the organization’s work will only continue following Tuesday’s verdict.

“I think we only got here because pressure was applied by the people,” said Fleming. “That’s how we got to this point.”

Fleming noted that relations between people of color and police officers in the Key City are not as strained as in some other parts of the country, but in order to keep them that way, accountability must start at the thin blue line.

“I think what fellow officers have to do across the board is hold your fellow officers accountable when you see something that’s not right,” said Fleming.

Overall, Fleming regards the day as bittersweet, but undeniably historic for Black Americans.

“This is the beginning of a new movement,” said Fleming.

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