We members of the MN Legislative People of Color and Indigenous Peoples Caucus (POCI Caucus) express our condemnation and outrage of the killing of Mr. George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis Police officer on Monday, May 25. While we do not know all of the details of his death, what we do know is horrifically disturbing and seems an all-too familiar feature of the lives of people of color and Indigenous people – especially of Black men – in interactions with law enforcement agencies. That reality is utterly unacceptable and we call on it to end.
The POCI Caucus expresses our sympathy and care for Mr. Floyd’s family and friends in losing a loved one. No family or community should undergo the pain you are experiencing and we share in your loss.
Here is what we’ve been informed: Mr. Floyd died after police officers physically detained him following a report of a non-violent forgery crime. All indications are that he was unarmed and posed no physical threat to anyone. In an ensuing struggle with officers, he was pulled to the ground while one officer knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck for up to seven minutes. Mr. Floyd could be heard saying repeatedly that he could not breath and begging to not be killed. Bystanders called for the officer to relent, telling him that he was preventing Mr. Floyd from breathing. A citizen captured these moments on a cell phone video as the officer continued to kneel on Mr. Floyd’s neck and as blood trickled from his face and urine flowed from his body. Mr. Floyd lost consciousness and EMTs arrived shortly afterwards to transport him to HCMC where he was pronounced dead.
We call on the State of Minnesota to immediately investigate the death of Mr. Floyd and transparently report its proceedings and finding to the general public.
We also call on the Minneapolis Police Department to immediately remove the officers involved from active duty and report their account of the killing to the public.
We call on the Hennepin County Attorney to immediately open a criminal investigation of the officers involved.
We stand with all citizens to call for those involved in the death of Mr. Floyd to be held accountable and encourage their peaceful demands for justice in this matter.
As state legislators, we have little means to intervene in a local city’s jurisdictional matters. However, in the two most recent state legislative sessions, the POCI Caucus has proposed laws to bring accountability and transparency in the use of force by law enforcement. As a result, the House Public Safety Committee passed multiple pieces of legislation that sought to: 1) Establish a statewide police accountability system that would set and enforce higher standards of conduct; 2) Ensure Chief Law Enforcement Officers can fire subordinates who violate the public’s trust; 3) Fund local violence prevention organizations to decrease reliance on police for problem solving; 4) Provide for Police Counseling to lower the likelihood of poor decisions being made; 5) Extend the statute of limitations on wrongful deaths by police; and 6) Provide for improved training for law enforcement.
As POCI legislators, we fear police brutality has become a de facto accepted policy outcome for Minnesota. Predictably every year, Minnesota residents, specifically those of color and of Indigenous descent, are subjected to police violence. Every year, there are multiple officer-related assaults and even deaths under investigation. Every year, the vast majority of those officers do not face adequate administrative, civil, or criminal penalties provided for under our inadequate laws. Every year, People of Color and Indigenous State Legislators author legislation to address these flawed laws and curb police brutality.
We will continue our efforts to create state laws that bring accountability, greater humanity, and community-centered public safety – all with race equity – towards ending the unacceptable killings of people of color and Indigenous people at the hands of our law enforcement entities.
The People of Color & Indigenous (POCI) Caucus includes Reps. Jamie Becker-Finn (42B), Aisha Gomez (62B), Hodan Hassan (62A), Kaohly Her (64A), Mary Kunesh-Podein (41B), Fue Lee (59A), Alice Mann (56B), Carlos Mariani (65B), Rena Moran (65A), Mohamud Noor (60B), Ruth Richardson (52B), Samantha Vang (40B), Jay Xiong (67B), Tou Xiong (53B), and Sens. Melisa Franzen (49), Foung Hawj (67), Jeff Hayden (62), Bobby Joe Champion (59), and Patricia Torres Ray (63).