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Reactions From George Floyd Square

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

At George Floyd Square in Minneapolis, a crowd gathered earlier this afternoon when they heard that the jury had reached a verdict. And this was the sound of the reaction there as the verdict was read.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD AMBIENCE)

SHAPIRO: NPR's David Schaper has been there in the crowd for the last several hours. David, that's what it sounded like. What did it feel like?

DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: It was an electric moment, Ari. It was just really exciting and a big sigh of relief for a lot of folks, too. It was just - it was a powerful moment. And I have to say, you know, the shouts and screams of joy kind of went up right away after that first count was read. And that was a guilty verdict. But there were some groups of people who were trying to just stay quiet, stay calm, wanted to hear the results of all three charges. And it was when that third count and they knew it was guilty on all counts, a 39-year-old gentleman - B.J. Wilder (ph) of Minneapolis, who I was near - had tears in his eyes when he heard the verdict and just dropped to his knees then wept. When he stood up, he said this.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Chanting) Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter.

B J WILDER: Guilty on all three charges.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Black lives matter.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: All three. All three.

WILDER: It's a new day in America. I mean, you know, I mean, everybody saw it, but still, you sitting back thinking, you know, back to the Rodney King days. Everybody saw that, too, and those cops got off. I just - I was really worried. I was worried about my city. Thank God my city will not burn tonight. This is a new day. This is something beautiful. This is something different. It's finally some little piece of justice.

SCHAPER: And standing with Wilder was 31-year-old Janae Hendrie (ph) of Minneapolis, and she, too, had tears streaming down her cheeks.

JANAE HENDRIE: Right now I'm grateful that I can sleep and everybody will be safe and we can move to the next case because in my mind, we're not done. We're not done yet. But this is the best thing that could ever happen for Minnesota, for the nation. So I'm super-grateful for what we heard today, and, you know, it's exactly what he deserves.

SHAPIRO: Just so much emotion in those voices, David. We can hear behind you that George Floyd Square has turned into a rally, a celebration, a memorial. Can you tell us...

SCHAPER: Yeah.

SHAPIRO: ...What's going on there and what it looks like?

SCHAPER: Well, you know, it's interesting. There was only a couple of hundred people here before the verdict was read. The crowd has steadily grown, and I would say it's also steadily become more jubilant. There's more celebration than there was initially. There was, again, just a huge sigh of relief and a feeling like, you know, of accomplishment, of justice, that, you know, these people who have put so much into the protest movement but also trying to reform policing in the Twin Cities here - that sense of relief has now kind of turned into a more party-like atmosphere, I would say.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's David Schaper at George Floyd Square in Minneapolis on the day that a jury found former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all three counts in the murder of George Floyd.

Thank you, David.

SCHAPER: Thank you, Ari. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.