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Grand Strand reactions mixed on verdict of Chauvin trial

Updated: Apr. 21, 2021 at 9:14 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Reactions continue to pour in from the Grand Strand community over the guilty verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

On Tuesday, jurors convicted Chauvin on second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.

Floyd’s murder sparked protests in the Grand Strand and Pee Dee last summer.

Some called for racial equality, while others marched to support law enforcement.

“When I heard guilty first count, guilty second count, and guilty third count it was a relief,” said local activist Sheldon Butts.

Butts agreed with the jury in finding Chauvin guilty on all three charges.

“I think it was the right thing, the human thing to do,” he said.

However, Butts admitted he was anxious before the verdict came down Tuesday.

He recalled the high-profile case of Rodney King in 1992 where police officers were found not guilty of excessive force after beating King, who was an African American man.

Butts was a freshman in college at the time.

Fast forward to the summer of 2020, Butts and several others organized a peaceful demonstration in the Market Common after the death of Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

Though he’s glad about the guilty verdict, he said he doesn’t call it justice.

“We won’t have justice until all men are created equal,” said Butts.

However, some feel the verdict reached by jurors was too harsh.

“I feel that it definitely should have been manslaughter,” said Graham Dickinson, founder of Back The Blue Myrtle Beach. “I think second-degree may have been a little harsh just because of the drugs found in George’s system.”

Last year, Back The Blue held a rally in support of law enforcement amid cries to defund the police after Floyd’s death.

“The police officer, I’m sure he didn’t take that job just to kill a Black man,” said Dickinson. “I don’t think any officer does. If you do, you’re an extreme racist and you should be nowhere near the police force.”

One thing both men agree on, however, is some sort of police reform to bring about true change.

“We cannot stop, we cannot slow down we have to keep going and we shall overcome,” said Butts.

WMBF News also reached out to law enforcement agencies in Horry County for their thoughts on the verdict.

The Horry County Police Department declined to comment at this time.

No other agency has responded.

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