As many of you are aware, a 46-year-old black man named George Floyd died on Monday, May 25th, after Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin held Mr. Floyd face-down and pressed his knee to the back of his neck for eight minutes while Mr. Floyd struggled to breathe, repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe,” and begged for his life, and witnesses implored Chauvin to stop. A new video that emerged yesterday showed what happened in the seconds that preceded the viral video that has been circulating since Tuesday. In it, two other officers in addition to Floyd can be seen on top of Floyd while he cried, “I can’t breathe. Please let me stand.” In the final moments of Floyd’s life, those officers held back witnesses who were imploring them to ease up, to please put Mr. Floyd in the car—witnesses who pointed out that they were killing him. All four officers were fired after the video surfaced. They had violated the Minnesota Police Department’s Use of Force Policy 5-300, which was amended on July 28, 2016 to include the Duty to Intervene stipulation (5-303.01) that reads, “It shall be the duty of every sworn employee present at any scene where physical force is being applied to either stop or attempt to stop another sworn employee when force is being inappropriately applied or is no longer required.” Chauvin was arrested today and charged with third degree murder and manslaughter. There may be subsequent charges later. The county attorney’s office will release the full text of the complaint later today. No charges have been brought against the other officers at yet, but County Attorney Michael Freeman says the investigation is ongoing and eventual charges against the other officers are possible.
Ordinary citizens have the right to demand more accountability from law enforcement officers and the systems that empower them, but we often don’t know how. The Lift Every Voice Coalition has provided some simple but helpful tools to help us take concrete steps on behalf of George Floyd and millions like him, including the following sample letter that you can email to firstname.lastname@example.org:
Hennepin County Attorney
C-2000 Government Center
300 South Sixth Street
Minneapolis, MN 55487
Re: Urgent Call for Justice for George Floyd
Dear Attorney Michael Freeman,
I am writing to you as a concerned citizen. The inhumane treatment and killing of George Floyd was filmed and given to the world to witness. I am appalled that no arrests have been made to date, even after Mayor Jacob Frey publicly called for arrests. Your city is already reeling from the lack of action by your office. As an elected official, it is your duty to represent the interests of the public, and the public demands that you immediately arrest the officers involved in the death of George Floyd.
The very tragic death has left the nation in mourning, but your failure to act adds insult to injury. I implore you to heed the voices of the People calling out for justice and deliver it, as it is your duty to do.
Alternatively, you can call the Hennepin County Attorney’s office at 612-348-5550. A sample script: “Hello, my name is _____ and I am a concerned citizen. I am calling for the immediate arrest of the officers responsible for the death of George Floyd.”