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Hundreds take to downtown SLC after Chauvin guilty verdict

Posted at 10:16 PM, Apr 20, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY — As hundreds called for justice outside Salt Lake City Police headquarters Tuesday, they expressed that for once, they could finally feel that justice.

In a place they've gathered to protest countless times, the tone shifted from hopelessness and anger-- to relief and elation.

Derek Chauvin, former Minneapolis officer, is guilty on all charges related to the murder of George Floyd. The verdict dropped Tuesday afternoon.

READ: Chauvin found guilty of all charges in murder of George Floyd

Less than 3 hours later, people gathered with Black Lives Matter flags and banners in Salt Lake City as part of a joint protest hosted by Black Lives Matter Utah and Utah Against Police Brutality.

Black Lives Matter Utah Chapter Founder Lex Scott explained the mixed emotions everyone felt.

"It's like happiness and sadness," she said. "It's like, we shouldn't have to celebrate when a murderer is convicted of murder. And that's what we're celebrating here today. You know, it shouldn't be that rare, but I'm so happy for the Floyd family."

The group at one point faced the Salt Lake City Public Safety Building, where Scott told the crowd that Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown was standing inside watching them.

They walked up to the police barricades that kept them away from the windows and doors from the building, chanting.

"Black Lives Matter! Every. Single. Day!" people yelled.

With a verdict of guilty against a former police officer in the death of a Black man, people expressed feeling hope for the future.

WATCH: Utah activists celebrate 'moment of joy' after Chauvin verdict announced

"Before today, we were pretty close to almost losing hope. It felt like it was impossible to get justice in any form," said Ruby Mercado.

Her family feels the significance of this day deeply. Mercado's brother, Jovany Mercado-Bedolla was killed by Ogden Police in August of 2019.

"He had a pocketknife in his hand, on his own property," Mercardo recounted. "911 calls made it clear that he was disoriented, and that he was not a threat to anyone."

The family said officers were cleared in his death, and that they didn't give her brother his day in court. The family has since filed a civil suit.

WATCH: Ogden officers cleared of wrongdoing in 2019 shooting

That's why what happened with Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis, means everything to them.

"I'm just hoping that this opens up the doors to finally get the justice that my brother deserves as well," Mercado said.

Scott called the verdict "a win." She said she's never seen justice in her life, until now.

"I saw it today, I did," Scott said. She paused, as tears streamed down her face. "Feels good, yeah."

As they celebrated the life of George Floyd and mourned his death, Scott talked about how they are also continuing the work of the movement.

The group took off on a march through downtown, at one point passing by the office of Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill, before ending up at a mural of George Floyd in the area known as Fleet Block.

Scott said she hopes Gill is taking notes from the prosecutor in Minnesota on Derek Chauvin's case.

"Please, take notes," Scott urged. "If justice can happen there, then justice should happen here."