Trauma From Chauvin Trial Will Linger In Cleveland's Black Community

A protester carries a sign asking "Am I next?" in Cleveland after the death of George Floyd. [Jenny Hamel / ideastream]
A protester carries a sign asking "Am I next?" in Cleveland after the death of George Floyd. [Jenny Hamel / ideastream]
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The seven-week-long Derek Chauvin murder trial is over, but psychologists say the stress and trauma it caused the Black community to experience will linger.

Chauvin was found guilty Tuesday of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis. The jury deliberated for one day. 

Throughout the trial, oral arguments and videos showing the scene of Floyd’s death caused African Americans to feel stressed, powerless and hopeless, said local mental health counselor Robyn Hill. 

Now that a guilty verdict has been reached, Hill said there will be a sense of relief, but the stress may continue leading up to Chauvin’s sentencing. 

“There’s always going to be a pessimism about it, I think, like yeah, well, ‘he’s not going to get the full time deserved,’ there’s always that sense of hopelessness because of how much it’s taken us to get to this point, but I do believe there will be a sense of vindication,” Hill said. 

Recent police killings in the country, such as Daunte Wright, a Black man fatally shot at point-blank range by an officer in early April, have intensified the stress of the trial, Hill added.

“Some people are saying this trial is just the tip of the iceberg of the anger and frustration and trauma of just being Black in America,” she said.

Different generations may be experiencing trauma differently, Hill said.

For older Black Americans, the trial may be causing them to relive the stress and trauma of seeing police killings of Black men and women through the years, while younger people may be feeling the intense stress for the first time, she said.

“I think they thought it was over … I think they thought, ‘that was then,’ and then now it’s in their face, and so their anger is fresh,” Hill said.

Also, parents may be grappling with how to talk about the trial and teach their children how to handle police interactions, which adds to the stress and frustration, she added.

“We as parents have to decide, ‘do I teach my child to act like a broken Black person from the ‘60s, even though it’s 2021, so that they can survive? Or do I let my child get to be like his peers in 2021?” she said.

“As a parent who has a 17-year-old son … I have to tell him, ‘you don’t get a chance to get away with some of the things your peers get to get away with.’ But I also don’t want to teach him to hold his hat in hand like he’s two steps away from a plantation, either,” Hill added.

Hill recommends people take time away from social media and the news cycle if they are feeling stressed.

She also encourages people to engage in positive activities, such as taking a walk, exercising and eating well.

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