Black clergy across Philadelphia relieved after Chauvin guilty verdict

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Rev. Robert Collier was ready for whatever would happen as jurors deliberated in the Derek Chauvin murder trial. Fellow members of Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity had plans to dispatch to communities across the area in response to anticipated unrest over the verdict.

"We wanted clergy to be available in the community to give a calming effect," said Collier, who is the president of Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity.

Instead, on Tuesday night, Collier sat inside his home pleased with the guilty verdict and the peace that followed on the streets of Philadelphia.

Watch the moment the verdict was read in the Derek Chauvin trial
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ABC News Special Report: Derek Chauvin found guilty on all charges in the death of George Floyd.

Even for men of faith, it was difficult to have faith that justice would be served.

"We have been on pins and needles," said Collier.

"As a man of faith, I'd say it was tough just having faith in this justice system, or lack thereof," said Pastor Carl Day of Culture Changing Christians.

Pastor Day gathered with residents on the corner of 24th and Somerset in North Philadelphia Tuesday night to talk about the verdict and to celebrate.

"We're out here to express our feelings in the right way, and we're happy," said Rhonda Stubbs as she celebrated with the small group.

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But even among the celebration, residents and clergy members say a guilty verdict is only the beginning.

"Look what happens when we get involved. Look what happens when we stay vigilant," said Pastor Alyn Waller of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church.

"We should not view this as an end. It's a wonderful beginning that is worth celebrating but not keeping our eye off the ball," he said.

Collier says members of Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity still want to see real changes in policing, including more training for Philadelphia officers. They stress that the verdict will have the most impact if it leads to lasting change.

"It's a long road ahead but at least we're over this hurdle," said Collier. "My hope is there will be healing, that our members will understand justice can be served."

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