San Jose residents highlight police brutality in the Bay Area as they celebrate Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict


Kevin V. Nguyen

(Above) Members of “Families Taking Power” standing with Silicon Valley NAACP at San Jose City Hall. (Below) Vigil for George Floyd at Grace Baptist Church

When former police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted for the murder of George Floyd on April 23, residents gathered in downtown San Jose to draw attention to police brutality in the Bay Area.

The first of two rallies took place at City Hall and was hosted by Pastor Jethro Moore and the Silicon Valley NAACP, which turned the outside quad area into a makeshift stage for a local bluegrass band.

“We are celebrating today, not because it is over but because we got a victory,” Moore said. “We look forward to continuing this march, not just in Santa Clara County, but throughout this nation in changing policing.”

The audience included people who have already lost loved ones to police brutality. Although they were relieved by Chauvin’s conviction, they urged attendees to pay attention to local stories.

“Everyone assumes that what happened to George Floyd does not happen here, but it absolutely does,” said Jim Showman, who lost his daughter in a police shooting in 2014. “Maybe (this conviction) is a start. Maybe we can use this to continue the fight for justice and keep police that murder off of our streets.”

Sharon Watkins lost her son to police violence in 2015 and her family never saw a day in court. She said her outlook remains the same after Chauvin’s verdict.

“I was overwhelmed when I heard the three guilty verdicts because I didn’t take for granted that it would happen,” Watkins said. “We can celebrate this victory, but let’s not stop. Even though this one officer is going to serve time, there are hundreds, if not thousands like him.”

A few blocks away, B.L.A.C.K. Outreach and Grace Baptist Church also held a vigil, where community members focused on how to move forward after the verdict.

Tomora Hall, a special education teacher, urged residents to pay attention to the youth, especially those vulnerable or in need.

“We need restorative, healing-centered practices in our schools to help eliminate the school-to-prison pipeline,” Hall said. “You need to see what is your privilege and how you can leverage it to promote and uplift families of color.”

Sajid Khan, a public defender, spotlighted police brutality in Silicon Valley.

“If George Floyd had somehow survived that knee here in Santa Clara County, he would have been prosecuted,” Khan said. “That’s what would happen here in this county, because that’s what’s been happening here for decades.”