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'I hope, I hope, I hope': Reactions from Hope Youth Center following Chauvin verdict

From Hope Youth Center in south Minneapolis, tears and hugs followed the Derek Chauvin verdict.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — After George Floyd's death, three women came together to help their city. 

Mary Claire Francois, Marni Lewis-Harvey and Valerie Quintana have been addressing the needs of south Minneapolis through their nonprofit, The Real Minneapolis

Their focus has been on the city's youth, operating a learning pod in Allina Health's headquarters called the Hope Youth Center. 

"Justice for George Floyd, that's what we're here for. That's what started this. That's what brought us all together. That's what inspired me to do something," Francois said. 

After nearly a year of giving back to their community, they gathered around a TV in the Hope Youth Center to await the verdict in Derek Chauvin's trial. They were joined by Jada Anderson,15, and Ella Pritchard, 16, students at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School. The pair attended the center while distance learning due to the pandemic. 

Credit: Devin Krinke
Jada Anderson, 15, awaits the verdict.

"I'm just scared. I hope everything goes right," Anderson said.

Pritchard added, "Just nervous because it could really go either way and it scares me if it were to go wrong. I'm worried about what could happen."

RELATED: Derek Chauvin found guilty of murder, manslaughter in death of George Floyd

Credit: Devin Krinke
Ella Pritchard, 16, leans against Jada Anderson, 15, for support.

As the five of them held hands, Judge Peter Cahill read the verdict. The former Minneapolis police officer was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd's death.

Hugs and tears followed at Hope Youth Center. 

"I'm relieved. I mean nothing can bring George Floyd back but at least this is a huge step towards racial justice," Quintana said. 

RELATED: Barber shop silenced, then euphoric, as verdict is read

Credit: Devin Krinke
Hugs and tears followed the announcement of the verdict at the Hope Youth Center in south Minneapolis.

"It'll never really be fair because of the way that he died... but just knowing that at least the verdict or at least the jury and the people see that what happened to him was wrong, it puts some ease in my heart," Pritchard said. 

The verdict took a bit of weight off Francois' shoulders. But the work is just beginning. 

"I think it puts that weight onto white people to realize that they're the ones with the power and the authority and the privilege to make a change and to make a lasting change," Francois said. 

Credit: Devin Krinke
Mary Claire Francois gets emotional after Judge Peter Cahill reads the verdict.

Anderson said she remains hopeful that real change can happen but she is also now dealing with the trauma from the killing of Daunte Wright. 

RELATED: Interfaith leaders share fundamental belief: Justice was served in Chauvin trial

The Hope Youth Center includes art with the faces of Philando Castile, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake and Elijah McClain. 

"That's my dad, that's my brother, that's me, that's my other brother, that's my other brother. That's all of us," Anderson said. 

Lewis-Harvey said, "I just want to see justice for all stolen lives and this to me, it just gives me a lot of hope." 

"We shouldn't move backwards to what used to happen; we should continue moving forward," Anderson said. "We just want to be equal. That's it. I hope, I hope, I hope."