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East Texas criminal justice professor weighs in on impact of Chauvin verdict

"I think one of the verdicts, aside from the three guilties, was that Black Lives Matter," one East Texan said.
Credit: KYTX

HAWKINS, Texas — After former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty for murdering George Floyd on Memorial Day 2020, Calvin Lester said history was made, but not only in the courtroom.

Lester is an assistant professor of criminal justice at Jarvis Christian College said Floyd's death impacted the world.

"There were protests in every state of the union, and every continent on the planet," he said. "I don't know that there's ever been an instance where one single event just shocked the consciousness and sent out a shockwave, literally around the world."

A younger generation has been leading the movement locally, and in Tyler the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests lasted for nearly two weeks consecutively. Protests are still happening across East Texas, with the most recent in Lindale following a video a student made mocking Floyd's death. 

RELATED: Black Lives Matter protestors march in Lindale in response to video mocking George Floyd's death

Lester said the events leading to Chauvin's verdict show there's still more work to be done, but there's a young generation stepping up to the plate. He also noted the role Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) played in shaping the latest social movement for BLM.

"There are still movements of young people and young people who attend historically black colleges, you would not have had the civil rights movement without historically black colleges, you will not have had Black Lives Matter," he said. "So it says that there are still some challenges in this country, but it also says that our nation's HBCUs are still relevant, they're still necessary, and they're still effective and producing the leaders, as students with consciousness that are going out and changing the world, even today."

As for the trial for Chauvin, Lester believes it was fair and he was glad to see Floyd portrayed in a human light. He hopes moving forward this case will set a precedent for future trials involving police officers.

"A model has been set, you can show your community, to the world to this nation, that that's not who you are, and this is the way to do it," he explained. "This can be a watershed moment in history. I think one of the verdicts, aside from the three guilty, was that Black lives matter."

Moving forward, Lester hopes to see police departments across the country and locally diversify their members, as well as follow a community policing system.