MADISON (WKOW) -- Michael Johnson, the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County's CEO, invited about a dozen community leaders to watch together as the judge read the jury's decision in the Derek Chauvin trial.
The room was mostly silent as the judge read the first two guilty verdicts. After the third guilty verdict, many of the leaders started applauding. Johnson had tears in his eyes.
Dr. Ruben Anthony, the President and CEO of Urban League of Greater Madison, was one of the people in the room.
"We've waited for a long time for justice, and finally we get justice," he said. "All people were asking for is the truth. We saw a man get killed, you know, right in front of our eyes, and we were just asking for justice. Today, we got justice."
Anthony said watching the trial was difficult, but Tuesday's jury decision helped rebuild some of his faith in the justice system.
"My faith was broken because we’ve seen innocent verdicts come out one after the next, but now maybe this is a step closer to having a just system in this country," he said.
Anthony Cooper, Sr., the founder and president of Focused Interruption, a Madison non-profit working to end gun violence, said he was a bit nervous watching the judge read the verdict.
"I was hopeful but at the same time still nervous because we've seen this all play out before and it actually went the other way," he said. "After so many, finally there's actually justice that's been served."
Cooper said while he is relieved the jury found Chauvin guilty, he believes true change will take more than one verdict.
" [In] our country, we have a lot of work to do," he said. "So I think this is a step going in the right direction in that our lives are being looked at as valuable and valued citizens in the community. But again, there’s so much more work to do. This is just a piece of it."
Cooper said he hopes communities across the country start to reevaluate police forces and public health departments in an effort to increase racial equity.