September 17, 2021

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Atlanta on edge as jury deliberates Chauvin’s fate – Atlanta Journal Constitution

3 min read

Daniels, a sophomore architecture major, said the April 11 fatal shooting of Daunte Wright, another Black man, by a police officer in Minnesota already “has people ready to take to the streets.”

“People are already angry,” Daniels said. “And the coronavirus isn’t going to stop people this year.”

That worries business owners.

Last summer, in what started out as peaceful protests, looters methodically rampaged through downtown Atlanta, clashing with police and destroying property.

That is why Stephen Chester is keeping a close eye on the outcome of the trial.

He and his downtown business ATL-Cruzers, which offers Segway and electric car sightseeing tours, survived last summer’s uprising — barely. Despite the “Black-owned” signs, rioters broke windows and damaged some equipment.

The business’ co-owner, Amir McRae, shooed away looters in the Circle K next door.

“We worked way too hard for this,” McRae told looters. “Do what’s right. Keep it moving!”

Chester said he and McRae, both fathers, won’t be there should anything happen this time.

”I won’t be putting myself in harm’s way for that again,” Chester said.

“We pay insurance for a reason,” he added.

His business is already affected. Chester said several groups, anticipating violence, have canceled tours. He’s told his staff to move inventory out of sight before they close at night.

They still have the plywood from last year.

Other business owners are concerned, but said they aren’t planning any specific response.

Andrew Song’s father immigrated to the U.S. from Korea and started Kwan’s Deli next to Centennial Park in 2002.

In June, looters smashed the corner store’s front window and stole food along with the cash register.

He said the business was closed for just over a week while they bought a new point-of-sale system.

”From a business perspective, I don’t think we’ve anticipated anything in regards to the trial,” he said.

In Athens, Alex English, the president of the University of Georgia’s chapter of the NAACP, is ready for the trial to conclude.

The nonstop broadcasting of the witness footage is only rehashing the anguish from last summer, he said.

“Black trauma should not be on replay,” said English, 22. “It should not be trending. It’s important that we find a solution and quickly address the problems facing our community that white supremacy has given credence to.”

English hopes the trial will change law enforcement officers’ justification of the use of excessive force.

“As a Black man in America, I’m always pessimistic when it comes to these types of things, and I just hope that my pessimism is wrong this time,” English said.

Brandi Morgan, a nurse from Kennesaw who participated in a demonstration at Centennial Park last week following Wright’s death, said the anger over police shootings has reached a boiling point.

She worries about how that will play out if Chauvin is acquitted.

“People are being murdered on camera and nothing is being done,” Morgan said. “I’m sick and tired of it.”

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