The wait was excruciating. The verdict was supposed to be in by 4 p.m., and when it was a few minutes late, tensions began to rise. The entire nation was watching live on televisions, laptops and smartphones as Derek Chauvin returned to the courtroom where history was about to be made.
Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. One word, three times, and the tensions that had built up around the Chauvin case evaporated. Fears of civil unrest gave way to feelings of relief.
But this victory of justice is but one step toward trust in the judicial system. There's a long way to go.
"While the verdict reached today in the Chauvin trial brings about closure to a time filled with varying emotions, the pain, mistrust, and historical trauma by members of our community will continue to stay open," reads a statement released by the City of Rochester.
"In order to stand with our entire community, we must acknowledge the pain, both lingering and fresh, being laid bare and caused by racial inequities across our state and country," the statement said.
Statements regarding the verdicts flooded inboxes. Elected officials, local activists, clergy and schools all wanted to be part of what many interpret as a monumental step in justice.
"I did have doubts that the justice system was going to fail the Black community once again," wrote Yezi Gugsa, co-founder of the Rochester Initiative. "We’re going to continue to fight for change and demand actions and new policing. We shouldn’t even be feeling that much doubt in our hearts. I hope that cycle can be broken."
Gov. Tim Walz wrote: "The trial is over, but our work has only begun.
"Derek Chauvin has been found guilty of murder and faces years behind bars. But we know that accountability in the courtroom is only the first step.
"True justice for George only comes through real, systemic change to prevent this from happening again. And the tragic death of Daunte Wright this week serves as a heartbreaking reminder that we still have so much more work to do to get there."
Even President Joe Biden called the verdicts a "giant step toward justice."
"It was a murder in the full light of day, and it ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see," Biden said in nationally televised remarks. "Systemic racism is a stain on the nation's soul."
The fears of violence that shadowed Chauvin's trial failed to materialize. After celebrating their court victory, the crowds simply went home. After all, come tomorrow, there's work to be done.