Last year on May 25, 2020, George Floyd was brutally murdered in front of our eyes. George Floyd was unarmed and non-combative, but nonetheless, Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer, chose to press his knee into Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, while Floyd struggled to breathe and cried out for his mother. George Floyd’s horrific death spawned protests, marches and vigils across the world, and sparked conversations about police brutality and systemic racism on a scale not seen since the 1960s.
The injustice of George Floyd’s murder was confirmed in April 2021, with a unanimous jury convicting Derek Chauvin of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree intentional murder. While the atrocity of this crime cannot be rectified, it was a tremendous victory to have the first White police officer held accountable and convicted of murder in the state of Minnesota.
In response to George Floyd’s murder, many city and state governments across the country took action to try to reform their criminal justice system. In Minneapolis, changes have included requiring officers to explain why they drew their weapons, banning chokeholds, and creating new limits on no-knock warrants. More recently, following the killing of Daunte Wright, Brooklyn Center implemented bold reforms by introducing an unarmed traffic enforcement division, an unarmed community response team, and prohibiting officers from making arrests or searching vehicles for non-moving traffic violations.
These changes are revolutionary; and yet they are not enough. The criminal justice reforms proposed by the Minnesota State Legislature and the Biden administration are another critical step forward. But with large racial disparities marking almost every single measure of success in the state of Minnesota, there is still considerable work to be done to break the cycle of violence and trauma that funnels marginalized communities into the criminal justice system and perpetuates police brutality.
As your legislator, I am committed to work hard in my scope of work to continue to push for legislation that tackles measurable outcomes and engages in the complex, nuanced and difficult conversations around these reforms so that all Minnesotans have an equal opportunity to thrive. It is each of our jobs to not only recognize the political and policy solutions of the matter, but also understand the structural problems allowing for these injustices to occur time and time again. Together, we can create a community where everyone is safe.
For any questions you have on the resources available to our community or our work in the Minnesota House, please feel free to contact my legislative assistant Sonia Romero at email@example.com or 651-296-4307.
Minnesota State Representative (House District 66B)