MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Tuesday marks one year since former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd during an arrest outside of a south Minneapolis grocery store.
Floyd, who is Black, died on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin, who is white, kneeled on his neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds during an arrest. Last month, Chauvin was found guilty of murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death. Three other former officers also face state charges in the incident. All four former officers face federal charges, too.
In the immediate aftermath of Floyd’s killing, there were days of protest and nights of unrest in the Twin Cities. His death also sparked a nationwide reckoning with racism and police brutality.
On the first anniversary of Floyd’s death, politicians and public figures in Minnesota are honoring his memory.
MINNEAPOLIS MAYOR JACOB FREY
Today marks one year since George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer. One year later, as the world knows and says his name, Ma’Khia Bryant, Breonna Taylor, Daunte Wright, and so many taken from their families, the greatest impact is felt by the daughter who lost her father. A family that lost a brother and son. A community that lost Mr. George Floyd.
As we look ahead, Black Americans, including those residing in Minneapolis, are still too routinely denied justice. It’s impossible to course-correct centuries of systemic racism and anti-Blackness in any one single effort, but that doesn’t lift the responsibility to deliver results that match the precision of the harm inflicted over generations. It is unacceptable to say Black Lives Matter only after a Black person has been murdered. We need to show it in our actions every day. We need to work together towards real systemic changes and that’s exactly what we intend to do.
MINNESOTA GOV. TIM WALZ
Today, we honor and remember George Floyd. In the days following his murder, Minnesotans raised their voices and called for real, meaningful change to prevent this from ever happening again. Those calls for action spread across the world as his memory sparked a global movement. George Floyd didn’t ask to be an international symbol of the pain that Black Americans have faced for generations, and yet, in the words of his daughter, he changed the world.
We must honor George Floyd’s memory here in Minnesota by ensuring all people — particularly in our communities of color — are respected and protected by law enforcement. Let us recommit ourselves to seeking meaningful police reform and working together to make lasting change in Minnesota. The calls for action from Minnesotans across the state and people across the world cannot go unanswered.
To those who were closest to George, to his family, his friends, and his little girl, I know the pain of your loss will never fully subside. As you carry your grief forward, know that George will continue to be a catalyst for change, and together, we will ensure that his legacy leads to a better Minnesota for future generations to come.
LT. GOV. PEGGY FLANAGAN
George Floyd should be alive today.
Since the day he was murdered by Derek Chauvin, we have been confronted with what many Black Minnesotans and Minnesotans of color have known for generations: Too often, your race and identity determine your safety in our state. The injustices in policing and public safety that people of color – especially Black people – face in Minnesota were exposed for the world to see for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. We heard the grief and anger and cries for justice in streets across the globe. It is our collective responsibility to move past ‘Minnesota Nice’ and push through our discomfort; to listen and to act.
We took the first steps toward meaningful police reform in the Minnesota Legislature – but that can only the beginning. We have more work to do to ensure that every person in Minnesota is safe, valued, and protected in their communities. We have more work to do to ensure that this does not happen to anyone else’s father, brother, cousin, friend, neighbor, or child. We must re-imagine how we approach the issue of public safety overall. I am very clear that if Minnesota is safer for the Black community, it is safer for all of us. We are linked – our pain and our joy, our futures are woven together, and we must support each other as relatives.
My heart is with the Floyd family and with Minneapolis. No amount of legislation or convictions will bring George Floyd back to his loved ones – to his little girl, Gianna. But his daughter was absolutely right when she said that her daddy changed the world. Now it is up to us to change our hearts and to do the work.
REP. DEAN PHILLIPS
It was one year ago, today. George Floyd’s murder finally forced our country to acknowledge and confront the systemic racism that has ended too many Black lives and dreams. And while progress is being made, justice and opportunity for all requires a collective commitment. As we stand at the cusp of a bipartisan agreement on policing reforms to ensure accountability and enhance safety for all Americans, I urge President Biden and Congressional leaders to choose what is just over what is easy. Inaction is unacceptable, and the time is now.
REP. ILHAN OMAR
Today, I joined members of our community to mark one year since George Floyd’s murder. True justice for George Floyd and so many others will only be achieved by radically transforming our approach to criminal justice and dismantling systemic racism wherever we find it.
MINNESOTA DFL PARTY
One year ago today, George Floyd was slowly and agonizingly murdered under the knee of then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. George Floyd didn’t ask to be a symbol and he didn’t ask to give his life to motivate a mass movement, he just wanted to be able to breathe and we failed him.
While Floyd’s killer has been brought to justice, that is not nearly enough. We cannot content ourselves with justice after the fact because that leaves in place the unjust systems that brought about George Floyd’s death in the first place. We must make real, durable, and systemic change to protect Black lives in Minnesota and across America. I urge Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and I urge Minnesota lawmakers to build on last year’s work by passing the police reform measures put forward by House DFLers. Failing to act is simply not an option.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR
One year ago, George Floyd was murdered. He was murdered on videotape — the whole world saw it happen. While Derek Chauvin’s conviction brought some accountability, it did not bring us true justice.
Because true justice is not done as long as a chokehold, a knee to the neck, is considered legitimate policing. True justice is not done as long as Black Americans are killed by law enforcement at more than twice the rate of white Americans.
To confront the systemic racism in our justice system, we must work towards systemic change. It is past time for Congress to move forward on police reform and pass the legislation named in George Floyd’s honor.
ATTORNEY GENERAL KEITH ELLISON
George Floyd loved people and had the love of people all around him — especially the love of his family that was always there for him. Everyone who knew and loved him misses him to this day, and always will.
None of the people who stopped and raised their voices one year ago — people of all backgrounds — even knew George Floyd, but they knew in their bones that what they were seeing was wrong. They knew it was their duty to care for Floyd in any way they could and bear witness to his death, even though they didn’t know him.
Floyd’s death one year ago today sparked a worldwide movement because it didn’t happen in the flash of an instant: it took place over nine and a half excruciating minutes before people armed only with cell phones, who made sure it played out in front of the world.
African American communities have been gaslit by people in authority for 100 years: they have been repeatedly told that state-sanctioned violence in their communities is their fault and that they are the criminals, not the ones committing the crimes against them. But this time, the witnesses to George Floyd’s death and everyone in the world who watched their videos refused to be gaslit. They believed their eyes.
After 100 years of tragic incidents of police-involved deaths of African Americans and others, all fair-minded people want to fix the problem — but as James Baldwin said, “Nothing can be changed until it is faced.” We must face that for 100 years, we have been caught in a cycle of state-sponsored violence that leads to uprising and protest, that leads to commissions and studies, that dead-ends in inaction, that leads to more state-sponsored violence. Noted African American psychologist Dr. Kenneth Clark made exactly this point to the Kerner Commission in 1968, more than 50 years ago.
We can break this cycle. The moment for making meaningful change is now.
The moment for law-enforcement leaders to finally demand true accountability of their staff — and for officers to finally demand true accountability of each other — is now.
The time for legislators at every level — federal, state, and municipal — to act is now. As the person who is leading the prosecution in the death of George Floyd, I know that guilty verdicts are important, but are not the total change that we need. I call on Congress to past the best version of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act that can be passed, as soon as possible. Lives are depending on it.
The time for prosecutors to commit themselves to equal justice for anyone who commits a crime whether they wear a badge or not, and to the proposition that no one is above the law and no one is beneath it, is now.
And the time for all Americans of all backgrounds to do the hard work of ending racism and white supremacy once and for all is now.
For a century, and despite the best efforts of many, America has chosen inaction over climbing this mountain. But the other side of this mountain is better — not only for African Americans, but for everyone.
On the other side of this mountain, no one fears those who are sworn to protect them, so all communities are safer. On the other side of this mountain, safety and security in all communities leads to jobs, investment, and prosperity for everyone. On the other side of this mountain, all people live with dignity and respect, and liberty and justice are truly for all.
Finally, my thoughts today are with the Floyd family as they mourn their beloved “Perry.” Every day during the recent trial, they came to the courthouse to bear witness in the spirit of justice and accountability. They stood not with vengefulness, but with dignity and respect for each other and all people. They faced their worst fears and have turned their loss into hope and optimism for a better society. When we all become more like the Floyd family, we will find the courage to climb the mountain and make the change we all need.
SEN. TINA SMITH
Since George Floyd’s murder one year ago today, we’ve taken steps toward justice. Important steps for sure, but too few.
This week I have been hit hard by the reality of the long struggle ahead of us, and the strength of the movement sparked by George Floyd’s tragic murder.
Millions of people took to the streets, refusing to accept the daily trauma of white police officers shooting unarmed Black people. They marched for justice and an end to the systemic racism that creates inequity in housing, the environment, health care, and wealth.
Systems built up over 400 years to devalue Black lives will not change easily. Entrenched power fights change as it always has.
So this week, as we consider what has changed and what has not, I am focused on the work we need to do to reimagine public safety, and all the systems that steal opportunity and deny the value of Black lives.
For the Senate, our work continues on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, and I’m grateful for my colleague Senator Cory Booker for his determination to find a path forward.
With the power and determination of this movement, I know we can find and walk that path together.