The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin led to protests across the country--- some that turned violent and destructive and others that were peaceful, like in Billings.
Ken and Amber Palmer are two of the people who organized that event in Billings last June. They had been anxiously awaiting the outcome of the Chauvin trial up until hearing the judge on Tuesday read the jury's verdict of guilty on all charges.
“My stomach was just in knots because I really didn't know what to expect. I mean with cases like this that have happened previously, there has been no punishment,” said Amber Palmer.
Her husband, Ken, described the guilty verdict as relief. “I wasn't prepared for them to say guilty. I was hoping beyond hope that they would say guilty, but I was prepared for them to say not guilty. So, them saying guilty was a huge relief,” he said.
Last June, the Palmers helped attract more than 1,000 people into the streets of downtown Billings for a protest and march to remember Floyd and call for justice in the wake of his death. Many laid face down on their stomachs in the middle of the street with their hands behind their back-- chanting "I can't breathe" as Floyd and had done before he died.
The Palmers have also formed a group called BIPOC, which stands for black and indigenous people of color, in the wake of Floyd’s death. Ken moved to Billings four years ago after growing up in Chicago.
“I have dealt with my own situations with police being profiled just for how I look walking down the street being questioned, being hassled, being harassed,” he said.
Despite the pain and anger caused by Floyd and other deaths and the violence that followed, the Palmers believe some good can come from today’s verdict and the attention that the case has received.
“This is definitely a small step in the right direction and it just shows that things are changing and hopefully now more people will be held accountable. I mean, just because you commit a crime or because you are suspected doesn't mean that you need to be murdered,” said Amber.
Ken sees it as a start. “Even though this verdict was great and it needed to happen, we still have a long ways to go,” he said.