ORLANDO, Fla. — In a quiet neighborhood just west of Walt Disney World, media and several dozen protesters gathered outside a townhome owned by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and his wife. Chalked concrete denouncing Chauvin as a murderer explained why.
“It’s very obvious that this is an institutionalized issue, it’s systemic,” said Aaron Adams who showed up at the home after seeing the address plastered on twitter. “This is not a conversation of bad apples,” he said.
Chauvin, charged with murder and manslaughter on Friday, is the Minneapolis police officer who is featured in bystander video pressing his knee against George Floyd’s neck after Floyd was cuffed, on the ground, and pleading that he couldn’t breathe. Floyd was pronounced dead at the hospital hours later.
Outside Chauvin’s Windermere townhome, locals holding signs kept it peaceful but used the moment in history to be heard. Protesters chanted “black lives matter.”
“We will put pressure in the most peaceful and serious way we can,” said Miles Mulrain, a community organizer in Orlando.
Chauvin’s home appeared empty, the curtains drawn.
The Orange County Sheriff’s office held a press conference earlier in the day stating that no-one was currently staying in the home.
Sheriff John Mina said the townhome is believed to be Chauvin’s “vacation” home. Sheriff Mina also stated that he supported free speech and protests in the county as long as protesters remained peaceful. Several Sheriff’s deputies were in Chauvin’s neighborhood monitoring the protests and helping to control traffic. When asked what he thought of the video showing Chauvin kneeling against Floyd’s neck, Sheriff Mina called it “very disturbing. I’m sure all those involved will be held accountable for their actions,” he said.
Protesters including Hannah Madres of Orlando said being outside his home was her chance to send a message.
“Whether he’s here or not we feel we need to let our voices be heard,” she said while holding a sign seeking justice in the name of George Floyd.
Neighbors in the community could share only a few details about Chauvin and his wife’s time in the community. One neighbor said the couple would only come down “sporadically” and kept to themselves.
Another neighbor said he had only met Chauvin’s wife once but never met Derek and didn’t know he was a police officer.
“The only time we knew they were there was when their dogs barked every time we’d come outside,” he said.
Chauvin’s home in the Sunshine State attracted several dozen people who, despite the distance to the twin cities, felt compelled to share the same message.
“We want justice, we want charges, we want to see some kind of change,” said Mulrain.