Elerson G. Smith sat silently and stared at his TV. His girlfriend could tell he was nervous. He listened and waited. A few miles from his apartment, almost a year earlier, smoke hung over his family’s south Minneapolis neighborhood for days, well after the buildings stopped burning.
The smoke was gone now, on this Tuesday afternoon last month. But the tension remained. Derek Chauvin was on his TV screen, awaiting the verdict of his murder trial. Then came the word Smith had longed since last spring to hear: “Guilty.”
What happened next surprised Smith.
“It wasn’t as much of a sense of relief as I thought it was going to be,” he said. “It didn’t feel as good as I thought it was going to. I thought I was going to celebrate. But when it happened, I was like: What’s there to celebrate? One, we’re not going to get George Floyd back. But two, I was like: This was the right thing to do. Why would I celebrate justice happening?”
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Smith, an edge rusher whom the Giants just drafted in the fourth round, knows one guilty verdict — or even the three that sent Chauvin to prison — won’t end police brutality or racism.
He lived it growing up in Minneapolis — when cops arrived unannounced and his sister was placed in…