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Local racial justice organizers react to Chauvin murder conviction, push for sustained change

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Andrew Yee/Town Crier File Photo
Kiyoshi Taylor speaks to a crowd gathered outside Mountain View City Hall last June during a protest following the murder of George Floyd.

As Kiyoshi Taylor watched a jury convict former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin of murdering George Floyd today, Taylor said he felt exhausted and frustrated at the amount of work it took to get a guilty verdict in a single case.

Taylor, a 2015 Los Altos High School graduate, helped organize local protest marches last summer in the wake of Floyd’s death and emphasized that Chauvin’s conviction only came after “a whole year’s worth of protesting and educating and rallying.”

“It’s far from a party, it’s far from a celebration, because this is what should have happened. This is what should have always happened, and should continue to happen,” Taylor said. “And it’s (a feeling of) frustration because I know it took all this for one person, but there’s plenty of others out there who won’t get this justice.”

Chauvin was convicted today of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for killing Floyd last May. Video of the murder, showing Chauvin pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes, went viral last year and sparked a global outcry.

Rallies in Mountain View and Los Altos last June drew large crowds of protesters, who called attention to systemic racism at both the national and local level. Kenan Moos, also a Los Altos High grad, led the march through downtown Los Altos and formed the Justice Vanguard organization with Taylor. Both Taylor and Moos were named Town Crier Los Altans of the Year for their advocacy work.

While Moos said it’s important and good Chauvin was convicted, like Taylor he stressed that it’s only a single case, and single officer.

“It doesn’t change that much. It’s one trial,” Moos said. “Hopefully it gives white people the energy to continue to work, because it’s just one trial.”

Seeing a jury convict Chauvin did give Taylor “a little bit more hope” that other police officers may be convicted in future cases.

During the course of Chauvin’s trial, there have been multiple high-profile police killings. The New York Times reported April 17 that “at least 64 people have died at the hands of law enforcement nationwide” since testimony began in Chauvin’s case March 29. Black and Latino people make up more than half of those killed.

Floyd’s murder last year opened an avenue for conversations about the experience of Black and brown people locally, Taylor said, with Justice Vanguard working to create a dialogue, answer questions and educate the community. Now, he added, it’s time for concrete action.

“We taught you everything we could, so now it’s time for actual reform,” Taylor said. “It’s time for actual change.”

The steps Moos and Taylor have been calling for include implementing a mandatory ethnic studies course at local high schools and putting more resources toward mental health support at Los Altos High, as a replacement for the school resource officer program the city council voted to eliminate last November.

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