Hundreds of New Yorkers took to the streets on Tuesday night to celebrate the conviction of Derek Chauvin, hours after a jury found the former Minneapolis police officer guilty of murdering George Floyd, and nearly a year after video of the killing prompted a nationwide uprising against racist police abuse. The prevailing mood among those assembled was one of relief, tinged with sorrow.

“My gut reaction was to feel a moment of joy because I wasn’t expecting it at all, then I’m just sad that we have to celebrate this,” 29-year-old Raven Sanders said as she stood in Times Square alongside roughly 100 other demonstrators. “We shouldn’t have to feel a joy for people being held accountable for murder.”

The rally, like others in the city, had been planned ahead of the verdict, regardless of the trial's outcome. Many protesters said they had braced themselves for the likelihood that Chauvin would escape the top murder conviction, based on past experiences with the criminal justice system. Several cited a Staten Island grand jury’s 2014 decision not to indict the officer who killed Eric Garner, whose final words — “I can’t breathe” — were echoed by Floyd in the moments before his death.

“It would not have been unexpected, unfortunately,” Caroline DeVoe, a middle school teacher in Yonkers, told Gothamist. “I thought I was going to have to talk about that with my students and my own Black sons. I was preparing myself for the worst.”

Racquel Morris, a 28-year-old nurse on Staten Island, said she burst into tears when she heard the news. “When no justice is served, we’re conditioned to feel that way. I cried tears of joy but mostly relief because I honestly didn’t think a guilty verdict was going to come through.”

In Brooklyn, hundreds of people gathered at Barclays Center, the site of some of last summer’s fiercest police confrontations. Nana Zakia stood near the back of the group, leaning on a cane and thanking the protesters for their dedication over the last year.

“As an elder of 65 years, I’ve seen that there really have been no changes. These young people have really made the change,” she said. “I’ve seen our movement be stagnant and these young people are bringing it back, so maybe, maybe in the next 10 years, we won’t be standing here.”

Both demonstrations at Barclays Center and Times Square saw a visible presence of NYPD officers with the Community Affairs Unit on Tuesday night. Mayor Bill de Blasio had pledged to better utilize the community officers at protests, after a city report criticized the NYPD's reliance on the heavily militarized Strategic Response Group to crack down on demonstrators. There were no arrests related to the demonstrations on Tuesday, according to an NYPD spokesperson.

Still, protesters accused de Blasio of falling short on his commitments to police reform, with one calling his statement about George Floyd “reprehensible bullshit,” and pointing to the dozens of officers stationed at the outskirts of the protest as further evidence that his commitment to cut NYPD overtime was being ignored.

New York City’s mayoral candidates also rushed to take part in the celebration. For the most part, they went unnoticed by protesters, who stressed that the victory belonged to those who had been fighting in the streets for the last year.

“I want ya’ll to be crystal clear why we got a guilty verdict today,” Hawk Newsome, the founder of Black Lives Matter Greater New York, told the crowd at Barclays. “It was non-violent protest, mixed with motherfuckers tearing shit up.”