Sunday Reader: New Bern reacts to Chauvin verdict

The Volt Center
The Volt Center

The conviction on all three charges against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin drew emotional responses from the New Bern area.

Derek Chauvin, 45, was convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in the May 25, death of George Floyd. Chauvin, then a police officer, knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds while Floyd gasped air, said repeatedly that he could not breathe, and then died. The jurors deliberated for more than 10 hours over two days before coming to their decision.

Google results of the verdict here.

On her Facebook page, New Bern Alderwoman Jameesha Harris said, “Today, I can finally breathe. Justice was served.”

In a Sun Journal article, Bernard George, historian and civic leader, hailed the verdict as “an appropriate judgment and decision by the jury. It’s sad that we have someone who’s in such a powerful position to abuse that power so overtly, so nonchalantly,” he said. “It decries everything that America stands for: justice, compassion for our fellow man.”

George said that he believes most police “do their job. They perform a wonderful service,” but Chauvin “broke that trust.”

The linked Sun Journal article, written by veteran reporter/photographer/columnist Bill Hand, is an excellent collection of reactions.

Meanwhile, back on Facebook, Citizen in New Bern, a Facebook page started by Chris Ormond, posted this:

The verdict is in and Derek Chauvin was found guilty of all charges in the death of George Floyd. Our legal system has worked and justice is being served. “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). George Floyd’s life mattered—every life matters to God.

Citizen in New Bern has numerous anonymous moderators; the page’s following leans right and beyond. This post drew only four comments from the almost 51,500 followers of the page. One called the ruling “MOB RULE.” Another said, “Black privilege has spoken.” A third said, “He was doing his Jon (sic) and is innocent up yours blm.”

The fourth went into more detail:

Our justice system worked? I guess if fear mongering and intimidation are looked at as good things for our justice system…. Or how about the man who sold him the deadly amount of drugs who plead the fifth and the jury never heard about him… If Chauvin was found not guilty that verdict wouldn’t have meant Floyd’s life didn’t matter.

It should be noted that the 355,000-member Fraternal Order of Police called the trial fair. In a release, FOP said:

Our system of justice has worked as it should, with the prosecutors and defense presenting their evidence to the jury, which then deliberated and delivered a verdict. The trial was fair and due process was served. We hope and expect that all of our fellow citizens will respect the rule of law and remain peaceful tonight and in the days to come.


Last week’s Sunday Reader was about a change in plans at the VOLT Center.

Mike Krauss said:

It sounds like there was a “bait and switch” going on, and/or a complete lack of transparency to community concerns. I doubt seriously that a formal food service training program will be beneficial to the community at large. Maybe for food service management, but not for the “boots on the ground” workers. I can’t imagine what they could learn that they couldn’t have learned faster and more efficiently on the job. The original ideas that were “sold” for this project still have value and are the best use for the facility. A food truck base of operations seems like a wonderful idea! Why not?

Alison Dunn responded:

Agreed! Also, it was never the situation that this site would take the place of the current market. That is false. The schedules would have been different and the site would have increased access to fresh food in the community. Having numerous sites that serve as farmers’ markets is a common-place dynamic in cities and towns all over the country and world. For some reason there are people in New Bern who believe there can/should only be one Farmer’s Market!? The original plan was/is an amazing idea.

Jennifer (no last name given) said:

As a restaurant General Manager/Operating Partner of a corporate chain in our town, I hire many people with various work experience. I do not think it would be in someone’s advantage to take basic cooking classes that do not result in a culinary arts degree. Many restaurants local and corporate, have a cap on what they can pay starting out, no matter the experience they have, and many corporate chains have extensive training built into their hiring/onboarding programs. From my perspective it would be money wasted and will not make the impact on the community that is hoped.
What will make an impact and possibly change people’s lives, is giving them the opportunity to own their own businesses, and providing this area with better access to farm fresh food with a farmers market/hub for food entrepreneurs.

I believe the thing that might be getting missed here is that it is not a lack of skilled/educated prospects in the restaurant industry, it is businesses are not willing or unable to pay people a living wage. I’ve worked in this industry for 20 years and many of the people I have worked with have to work 2-3 jobs just to squeak by, that’s no way to live.
Maybe there could still be a partnership with CCC but I think they can find a more mutually beneficial way to serve the people of this community.

Anonymous said:

A win for the city appears to be filling their business venture with tenants, like most landlords. When did the city get into the rental business anyway? It’s true taking responsibity for environmetal failures is a bitter pill to swallow and it is easier to pave over the problems, and push the burdens of responsibility onto future generations to deal with. Very telling of city officials priorities.

People aren’t filling unskilled, low wage, entry level food industry jobs because of a lack of “training.” There are other issues at play.. Most restrauants have training programs in place, the corporate ones at least. One of the issues is a lack of a living wage, and benefits. People can’t afford to work for such little pay. Will the certification program change national corporate policies? If not, wouldn’t focusing on education that promotes upward mobility for our communities citizens be a wiser long term investment for the city, for our community?

Krauss made one final comment (so far):

The last two commenters have hit the nail squarely on the head! Does ANYONE doubt that minimum wage or even $10.00 per hour is simply not enough to sustain a person. If you’re in high school and working after school, that’s one thing. But trying to live on your own on that kind of money is just impossible. Especially in an area where an apartment or other rental site simply can’t be gotten for the amount you can earn on that kind of salary. Not to mention transportation, food, utilities, etc. I don’t know what the answer is, but I don’t think further “training” at the Volt Center or anywhere else will make a difference. A Living Wage law is desperately needed!

On the New Bern Post Facebook page, several others chimed in. Diane D’Amato Marr said:

CCC has the money to start a culinary class with a full commercial kitchen. However, it can only be used for educational purposes as part of the CCC curriculum. The entranpenuer program cannot use the kitchen as prep space for a private food truck business because the food truck proprietors sell the food for profit. The CCC money cannot be used for that. A grant “for” the entranpenuer commissary kitchen has “expired”. With that stated, there is nothing stopping anyone from applying for another “grant” to be utilized in building an entranpenuer commissary kitchen for use as food prep for food truck businesses. Two totally separate entities……that “can” function on the same campus with different over site. There will have to be some sort of management and staffing over the entranpenuer commissary kitchen separate from CCC with separate funding, by grant or fund raising of some sort. The culinary curriculum’s commercial kitchen will more than likely be managed, staffed by CCC.
Sunday Reader is a weekly capsule of things people are talking about in the New Bern area.
By Randy Foster