DENVER (CBS4) – Some of Denver’s faith and community leaders are preparing to provide ways for people to share their thoughts and emotions following the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
After making the request Monday, Mayor Michael Hancock repeated his call for community leaders to create these opportunities following the guilty verdict in Chauvin’s case. He also thanked those who have already committed to doing so.READ MORE: Cyclist Killed By Suspected Drunk Driver: Hundreds Attend Ghost Bike Dedication For Gwen Erffmeyer Inglis
“People need be heard and have a way to process this event, so let’s have those frank conversations, no matter how difficult they may be, and promote our collective healing,” Hancock said in a statement.
Throughout the several week trial, Rev. Eugene Downing was selective in what he’s watched, and at his church, New Hope Baptist, he encouraged congregants to do the same.
“Yes, it’s a blessing to see due process being carried out, but it’s also a trauma on the community that’s most affected,” Downing said. “You are simply absorbing trauma, and as you do that, you are exposing yourself to mental and emotional triggers as an African American that can play out in other ways.”
Sondra Young, president of the Denver chapter of the NAACP, stopped watching the trial and surrounding coverage closely after she felt it became more focused on George Floyd than former officer Chauvin’s actions.
Young also became frustrated as she saw more people killed at the hands of police around the country, including Adam Toledo, a Latino teen shot by police in Chicago and Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man in Minnesota, shot by an officer during a traffic stop.
“When you turn on the tv every day and you see the same remarks, you see the same happenings, the same actions, a community can only take so much,” Young said.
This Thursday, Young and the local NAACP chapter will host a virtual town hall so the community can share those feelings and begin to heal. She plans to invite Mayor Michael Hancock and Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen, as well as other community leaders.READ MORE: Police Officer, 1 Other Person Injured In Shooting Outside Englewood Apartment Complex
Young said she also plans to attend other events and protests, so she can encourage people to work with the NAACP and other groups on finding solutions.
“Let’s come together peacefully and get a message that makes sense,” Young said. “Let’s get together and work on policy that makes sense.”
At New Hope Baptist Church, Rev. Downing already holds bi-weekly meetings with trained counselors, which he started months ago to help congregants dealing with stress or trauma related to the pandemic and other ongoing events. At this Sunday’s meeting, he expects the discussion to focus on people’s feelings related to the trial and its coverage.
Downing also plans to hold his own community healing event, which he has done in the past following other high-profile trials.
“To have a place to process we can process some of the trauma and some of what is essentially some latent grief that lingers from some of these shootings that are rehashed by this particular trial,” Downing said.
Downing said a conviction will provide some relief, but not enough.
“There have been several shootings since the trial began, so it’s clear now that this is not about one thing that happens,” Downing said. “I think some genuine relief will occur when the community senses when the country realizes we’ve got a problem.”MORE NEWS: Highway 160 Reopens After Heavy Snow Forced Safety Closure Over La Veta Pass
The NAACP virtual “Community Healing and Peaceful Protest” event will be at 6 p.m. on Thursday. You can join with this Zoom link.