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Lake Worth Beach Bishop: Derek Chauvin Verdict Creates Opportunity For Racial Unity

Bishop Melvin Pinkney .jpg
Wilkine Brutus
Bishop Melvin Pinkney of New Life Zion Temple lead Black Lives Matter chants in front of the Lake Worth Beach city hall along Dixie Highway. July 2020

When a jury convicted former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd, Bishop Melvin Pinkney, leader of New Life Zion Temple in Lake Worth Beach, said a lot of residents were on edge about the murder trial, including him.

“To be honest with you, I was very worried. I was torn. I was just feeling like, 'Lord don’t let this go the wrong way,'” Pinkney said. “He was found guilty as he should have been and I thank God for that.”

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Pinkney said the guilty verdicts close a chapter after a year of racial and public health issues swept the nation. He said the community response to the trial may be the catalyst that “sustains the multiracial solidarity” during the George Floyd protest movements, despite all of the pandemic-related challenges undergirding socioeconomic issues.

Pinkney, who recently helped swear in a new Lake Worth Beach District 2 commissioner, led a protest last year in support of renaming of Dixie Highway in the city. At the time, he was joined by representatives of four different Black churches, all of whom called for concrete changes in the city, including economic support for marginalized communities, police reform, and an understanding of why local Confederate symbols create a social and cultural wedge between communities.

He said outside of the Chauvin verdict, it’s going to take more education around the historical tension between police and Black communities before more people can fully empathize with the ongoing outrage: The verdict may have given people some hope about a justice system that he believes disproportionately affects people in low-income, marginalized communities.

Pinkney says he’s trying to find silver linings throughout the ordeal because he saw how the trial “captured more people and not just people of color.”

“We had our white brothers and sisters out there with us,” Pinkney said. “And with this pandemic and with this systemic racism and all that’s been going on in the past year. It’s been a lot.”

Wilkine Brutus is a reporter and producer for WLRN and a guest faculty member at the Poynter Institute. The South Florida native produces stories on topics surrounding local news, culture, art, politics and current affairs.