Community activists in Fresno took center stage at a community gathering Tuesday night to mark the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial. Speakers reflected on a hard-fought year of protests leading up to the guilty verdict. They acknowledged the event as a way to connect and heal with others who have felt a mix of emotions after the verdict was read.
“This community hug for me today is super important because over this last year, I felt extremely vulnerable. I felt like I couldn’t do anything to help those around me and that’s something that tears me to my core,” said D’Aungillique Jackson, president of the Fresno State chapter of the NAACP.
She organized the event, bringing together speakers from Fresno Barrios Unidos, Fresno Stolen Lives, Hmong Innovating Politics and the Jakara Movement. Although activists felt relief from the verdict, they said the work is just beginning.
“Today we are celebrating the fact that the Floyd family can find peace, but we are not celebrating the fact that this fight is over,” said Jackson.
Jackson is a member of the city’s Commission for Police Reform and is working on a number of recommendations to present to the city council. One of the speakers, Gloria Hernandez, is also a member of the commission.
“I’m asking you to call your mayor and ask him to abide by the police reform commission recommendations. I ask the city council to pay attention to what we did,” Hernandez said.
District 4 Councilmember Tyler Maxwell was listening in the crowd. He addressed the work of the commission.
“Elected officials like myself, we still have a lot of work to do. At the end of the day it will be up to the city council to decide which of these recommendations they want to implement and how they want to implement them,” he said.
Maxwell reflected on the impact of not just the verdict, but the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Once upon a time, it was taboo for a politician to say, ‘Black Lives Matter.’ But because of the good work that we’re seeing folks like D’Aungillique doing and the movement, they’re moving folks in the right direction to where we can start making meaningful reform in our community,” he said.
Jackson was also one of the main organizers of Fresno’s large Black Lives Matter march in 2020. This year, she’s planning an anniversary march on May 31st.
“That date will fall on Memorial Day this year and that meaning to me and the thing that it symbolizes is perfect. We have lost so many soldiers,” she said.
Last year, the march attracted more than 3,000 people and remained peaceful. Organizers hope to double that number this year.