Reaction: Local leaders, sports teams reflect on 1 year since death of George Floyd

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On Tuesday, several Minnesota leaders provided their thoughts on the one-year anniversary of the day George Floyd was killed at the hands of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue.

Chauvin was found guilty of second- and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death.

From the governor to Minnesota’s professional sports teams, many shared their thoughts on how they are reflecting on this day. The following are statements provided on the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s death.

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."

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."

Sen. Amy Klobuchar

Rep. Dean Phillips

Minnesota 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."

Darnella Frazier, bystander who recorded video of incident

"A year ago, today I witnessed a murder. The victim’s name was George Floyd. Although this wasn’t the first time, I’ve seen a black man get killed at the hands of the police, this is the first time I witnessed it happen in front of me. Right in front of my eyes, a few feet away. I didn’t know this man from a can of paint, but I knew his life mattered. I knew that he was in pain. I knew that he was another black man in danger with no power. I was only 17 at the time, just a normal day for me walking my 9-year-old cousin to the corner store, not even prepared for what I was about to see, not even knowing my life was going to change on this exact day in those exact moments… it did. It changed me. It changed how I viewed life. It made me realize how dangerous it is to be Black in America. We shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells around police officers, the same people that are supposed to protect and serve. We are looked at as thugs, animals, and criminals, all because of the color of our skin. Why are Black people the only ones viewed this way when every race has some type of wrongdoing? None of us are to judge. We are all human. I am 18 now and I still hold the weight and trauma of what I witnessed a year ago. It’s a little easier now, but I’m not who I used to be. A part of my childhood was taken from me. My 9-year-old cousin who witnessed the same thing I did got a part of her childhood taken from her. Having to up and leave because my home was no longer safe, waking up to reporters at my door, closing my eyes at night only to see a man who is brown like me, lifeless on the ground. I couldn’t sleep properly for weeks. I used to shake so bad at night my mom had to rock me to sleep. Hopping from hotel to hotel because we didn’t have a home and looking over our back every day in the process. Having panic and anxiety attacks every time I seen a police car, not knowing who to trust because a lot of people are evil with bad intentions. I hold that weight. A lot of people call me a hero even though I don’t see myself as one. I was just in the right place at the right time. Behind this smile, behind these awards, behind the publicity, I’m a girl trying to heal from something I am reminded of every day. Everyone talks about the girl who recorded George Floyd’s death, but to actually be her is a different story. Not only did this affect me, my family too. We all experienced change. My mom the most. I strive every day to be strong for her because she was strong for me when I couldn’t be strong for myself. Even though this was a traumatic life-changing experience for me, I’m proud of myself. If it weren’t for my video, the world wouldn’t have known the truth. I own that. My video didn’t save George Floyd, but it put his murderer away and off the streets. You can view George Floyd anyway you choose to view him, despite his past, because don’t we all have one? He was a loved one, someone’s son, someone’s father, someone’s brother, and someone’s friend. We the people won’t take the blame, you won’t keep pointing fingers at us as if it’s our fault, as if we are criminals. I don’t think people understand how serious death is…that person is never coming back. These officers shouldn’t get to decide if someone gets to live or not. It’s time these officers start getting held accountable. Murdering people and abusing your power while doing it is not doing your job. It shouldn’t have to take people to actually go through something to understand it’s not ok. It’s called having a heart and understanding right from wrong. George Floyd, I can’t express enough how I wish things could have went different, but I want you to know you will always be in my heart. I’ll always remember this day because of you. May your soul rest in peace. May you rest in the most beautiful roses. – Darnella Frazier."


President of Common Cause, Karen Hobert Flynn

"In the year since George Floyd’s brutal and senseless murder, the nation has looked in the mirror and begun a serious discussion, but we need action and we need progress and we need them now before any more lives are needlessly lost. We have seen the conviction of the former Minneapolis police officer who murdered Mr. Floyd, but it’s not enough to address the longstanding and pervasive problems that led to his tragic death. As a nation we must do more to grapple with the realities of racism, unchecked police brutality, and the lack of police accountability that continues to claim the lives of far too many Black and Brown people. We must combat those cancers within in our nation and we must prevail.

"The horrible and unnecessary deaths at the hands of police officers have continued since the murder of George Floyd and they have continued since the conviction of his murderer. As we mark the anniversary of Mr. Floyd’s death, we must redouble our efforts to bring about systemic change. We must push for reforms at the local level, at the state level, and at the federal level. We must push for true and equal justice under the law for every American, regardless of the color of their skin."

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