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'See Us As Human': North Carolina Pastor Who Delivered George Floyd's Eulogy Reflects On Chauvin Verdict

Rev. Christoppher D. Stackhouse, Sr. stands outside of the entrance of Lewis Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Fayetteville, N.C. on April 21, 2021.
Laura Pellicer
Rev. Christoppher D. Stackhouse, Sr. stands outside of the entrance of Lewis Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Fayetteville, N.C. on April 21, 2021.

This week, a jury convicted former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin on all three counts for the murder of George Floyd. The verdict was personal for Rev. Christoppher D. Stackhouse, Sr. He’s the pastor of Lewis Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Raeford and Fayetteville, North Carolina, where George Floyd was born and he delivered the eulogy at Floyd’s memorial service in June.

Stackhouse sat down with WUNC reporter Laura Pellicer to talk about what the verdict means for North Carolina and the nation. This interview has been edited for brevity.

On his complex reaction to hearing the verdict:

"It was a feeling of relief. Why would there be such a great sense of relief for something that should have been a given? The bar for accountability and justice is so low."

"For a nation to be this relieved that justice happens is very telling of how we're not a nation of justice. So make no mistake about it. As we rejoice in this win, my community also knows there will be pushback. And as we rejoice in a step forward, we also brace to see what the push in the opposite direction will be."

On race and racism in Fayetteville:

"This is a culture in Fayetteville, North Carolina — it is Southern. And being a southern city, there is such an undertone of 'whiteness being right' that to speak against it to this day, and we’re talking about in 2021, is unnerving for people that look like me. It is scary and fearful for people that look like me."

"When I told people I was going to begin to push to have the Market House removed, they asked me if I have security."

On his hopes for changes in policing:

"If we can get more accountability, then it can change how policing works. And if we change how policing works, then it helps all of us. It helps all of us. So that's my hope, that we find a way to get accountability."

"But I don't know how we get there because we ask police to police the police. And police aren't going to police themselves."

On striving for a shared sense of humanity:

"Everybody knows police have a dangerous job, a hard job. Nobody is disputing that. The dispute is: see us [as] human. If you see us as human, maybe even after we're handcuffed, you still won't feel the need to put your knee on our neck for nine minutes. Maybe after you see us handcuffed, you still won't be so fearful of us that you confuse your taser with a gun."

Laura Pellicer is a digital reporter with WUNC’s small but intrepid digital news team.
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