On May 25, members of the Minneapo- lis Police Department (MPD) were involved in the death of George Floyd while they were placing him under arrest. The chill- ing video of the incident was recorded by eyewitnesses and shared widely on social media. The videos show a man handcuffed and lying on his stomach while an officer places direct pressure on his neck. During this time, Floyd pleads that he is unable to breath. Bystanders implore the officer to get off Floyd. The officer ignores these pleas. Other officers choose not to intervene.
When our focus as a state and nation has been on protecting the lives of vulnerable community members from the coronavirus pandemic, it is hard to process this prevent- able loss of human life.
Our Council expresses our condolences and wishes healing for the family and friends of Mr. Floyd. We stand with our African heritage community during this time
of tragedy. As an agency that represents one of Minnesota’s most diverse and complex communities, we sympathize with this tragic example of the systemic inequities that still exist within our justice system. We also acknowledge that we do not come close to fathoming the depth and pervasiveness of dangers that plague the lives of black men in America every day.
Additionally, our Council recognizes the role a member of our community played in this tragedy. One of the MPD officers shown in the video is of Asian Pacific heritage and does not appear to take action to help Mr. Floyd as he suffocates to death. Had he or any of the other officers intervened, this story could have ended very differently. As the call for diversity and inclusion in law enforcement hiring practices is answered, we must also hold these officers account- able within our criminal justice system. As more officers are hired that reflect our com-
munities, these officers must demonstrate an ability to stand up to existing organizational culture and actively engage in changing that culture.
Incidents such as this one directly con- tributes to the breakdown in the systems and structures that we look to for moral authority and social cohesion. Our society functions based on the premise that we as a people believe in the power and the sanctity of our systems of justice. We cannot move forward when these systems are harming members of our society.
Let our communities stand together against injustice and create trust where there has previously been fear. To this end, our Council asks all Minnesotans to speak up and act when they see instances of injustice against anyone. It is only through our uni- fied voice as Americans that we can begin to look towards our institutions of justice as the backbone of democracy.