DENVER — In the moments prior to a verdict delivery inside a Minneapolis courtroom, nearly a thousand miles away, Clement Asante, a University of Colorado Boulder (CU) law student, said he felt his body shake with nerves.
"I didn't know exactly what was going to happen," Asante said.
Testimony ran for three weeks in the trial against former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin. On Tuesday, a jury handed over guilty verdicts on all three charges against Chauvin stemming from the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd.
"The first thing that I thought was 'finally.' It's about time that a police officer is held accountable," Asante said.
In an open and candid conversation, Asante and two of his law school peers shared their hopes for what follows Chauvin's conviction.
"I think what happens after this verdict determines the relationship between, you know, Black people and law enforcement. That determination can be made after we see systemic change in each police department throughout the nation," said VanMichael Moore, a second-year law student at CU Boulder.
"We really have to do something about how police officers are trained, you know, in this country. The training is extremely short and inadequate," said Javon Quarles, who will be graduating from law school this year.
Moore, Quarles and Asante identify as Black men. Asante was born and raised in Ghana.
"That definitely gives me a unique perspective on these topics being from another country," Asante said.
Community organizers in Denver's Black Lives Matter chapter said the conversations on policing are far from over in Colorado.
"We still haven't received justice for the death of Elijah McClain and so many other people here in Colorado. So many showed up to protest last year after seeing the tape of George Floyd, after hearing the story of Breonna Taylor and they had to start looking within their own communities. A lot of people here in Denver did that," said Dr. Apryl Alexander of Black Lives Matter 5280. "Even though some people might say this is a victory for justice today, we still need to look within our community and see what needs to be changed."
Alexander said she hoped Thursday's verdict would set a precedent for the future.
"I'm hoping that this changes how police officers behave - that they are going to be held accountable for misbehavior and misconduct in policing," she said.