A handful of business owners crowded before a restaurant television Tuesday, bracing for the verdict.
George Floyd died just a few yards away under the knee of police officer Derek Chauvin last year, turning their neighborhood into an international beacon for racial justice and police reform. They anxiously waited to see whether Chauvin would face consequences.
"This is crazy," said Sam Willis Jr., who wore a nervous grin and paced the length of his Just Turkey restaurant. "I hope it goes well. I think he's got to get one [conviction on the charges]. He's got to go down for one. I don't see him getting acquitted."
"I think he's gonna be acquitted," said friend and nearby store owner Willie Frazier, perched on a rail and shaking his head. "They called in the National Guard, all the police up in here, boarded up the whole city. They know what's going on."
Judge Peter Cahill suddenly popped onto the screen, and a hush fell as everyone pulled out their cellphones to record the moment.
"Oh, my stomach hurts!" Willis blurted.
Then came the verdicts one by one. Second-degree murder: Guilty. Third-degree murder: Guilty. Manslaughter: Guilty.
"Ohh they gave him all three!" Willis whooped and the men high-fived. "Oh, I got the chills."
"I got hope. This happens to us so many times, I didn't want to have hope just to get let down. I'm so happy. Oh, my god," Frazier said as he walked next door to throw open his shop. Cars honked in celebration. "The town is safe. Everybody will be safe. It breaks down the tension that people have had for so long."
It's a tension that Willis, Frazier and other Black business owners near the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue have endured firsthand ever since Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes last May 25.
Now known as George Floyd Square, the area attracted visitors from all over the world. It has remained blocked off by concrete barricades, bike racks, and anti-tank defense structures maintained by a controversial group of activists demanding the city of Minneapolis meet 24 demands in return for yielding back the street.
Hundreds trickled into the square to hear and celebrate the verdict Tuesday. Some in the crowd wept and embraced.
"This is a relief," said Linda Torey, who started crying in the middle of the street. She raised her hands and yelled "History is being made!"
Into the evening, the racially mixed crowd with families and friends ballooned to around 600. A band played in the parking lot of Worldwide Outreach for Christ. Goodie bags of incense, bath salts and homemade soap were being given out as well as hand warmers.
Joi Lewis, founder of the Healing Justice Foundation, was downtown when she heard the verdict but soon made her way to George Floyd Square. She said she was relieved about the charges.
"It sets hopefully a precedent for saying you can't do this, you have to be held accountable for taking a human life. … The system has to be held accountable."
As the evening wore on, the crowd bellowed various chants, fists raised: "George Floyd!" they yelled. "Power to the people!"
People brought fresh flowers to the square. At one point, several in the crowd let out a collective scream of relief. People grilled meat as music boomed in celebration. After nightfall, people began to dance.
Alfonzo Williams of the Agape Movement, a peacekeeping group under contract with the city to provide security for the square and a beneficiary of the occupiers' demands, was jubilant as he prepared to mill around in the crowd. Williams, who grew up in the neighborhood and still attends Worldwide Outreach for Christ in the intersection, said he had mentally prepared himself for the worst when he woke up on Tuesday.
"It's a weight taken off our shoulders," he said. "It's been hard here. We've been through a lot of stuff, a lot of ups and downs. … We've made it through."
But it was just the beginning, he said. Three other officers still face trial in Floyd's killing, he pointed out. And the community had yet another case for which to seek justice in Daunte Wright, killed by a Brooklyn Center police officer in a traffic stop just over a week earlier.
Nathan McGinley, who also grew up in the neighborhood, stood with a friend apart from the crowd after hearing the verdict, weighing conflicted emotions. Chief among them: overwhelming relief.
"It's a lot. [George Floyd] could have easily been my dad, my uncle, anybody, because I grew up right here," he said. "A man's still dead. But as far as justice, it's a good day. … I'm not happy that a man's going to prison for a long time, but I'm not sad about it, either. He deserves to face consequences for his actions."
Over the heads of the crowd, someone threw handfuls of dollar bills into the air. People with signs poured down the sidewalk chanting joyfully on megaphones and drove by hanging out of car windows, pumping their fists.
Frazier, at his Finish Touch Boutique clothing and accessories store, predicted that people would be celebrating the verdict around the world.
"Now, we've got more faith here than yesterday. Everybody's got more faith. I even got more faith," he said. "There's a lot to celebrate, all over the nation. … It's a beautiful thing."