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Barber shop silenced, then euphoric, as verdict is read

Urban Touch Barbers stands six blocks from George Floyd Square.

MINNEAPOLIS — Six blocks up the street from George Floyd Square, clippers and scissors at Urban Touch Barbers were silenced by the reading of three verdicts.

“Shhh,” owner Billy Hill said, shushing the room as the barber shop’s three televisions streamed video of a Hennepin County courtroom seconds before Derek Chauvin learned his fate.

From silence, came euphoria, as Judge Peter Cahill read three guilty verdicts.

Hugs, high-fives, and applause followed.

“I'm shaking,” Hill said, summing up his feelings in four words. “Relieved, grateful, thankful, hopeful.”

It was an outcome for which they'd hoped, but in which they couldn’t allow themselves to believe.

“This is a start,” barber Darron Britt said. “It’s an eye opener for officers who don’t think nothing can happen.”

Across the room, Douglas Britt put a hand over his eyes and said, “When African Americans were in situations like this, that woman with the weights on her hands, she would peek. Today, justice was blind.”

Jerry Williams also took in the verdict at the barber shop. He viewed the outcome spiritually.

“God is in control and that’s the message that he’s sending down,” he said.

Next to the barber shop stands Bancroft Elementary where Hill went to school. Back then, he was no bigger than the young boys who filled several of his barber shop chairs after the verdict.

Hill couldn’t help but think their future seemed a little brighter.

“Gonna keep pushing,” he said. “What other choice do we have, you know?”