Urban League Twin Cities president gives perspective on death of George Floyd, impact

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS wants to get various perspectives on the death of George Floyd, and the impact.

The President and CEO of the Urban League Twin Cities, Steven Belton, sat down with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS to discuss his views on what happened and his hopes moving forward.

"I certainly thought of the family, at that point a nameless victim, I thought that we’ve been down this path before. I thought about the community and how it will harm and further and deepen the trauma. I thought about the people who were actually witnesses and wondering whether they had protected themselves and wondering how can you protect yourselves in the middle of that kind of moment… and then I thought about something at a deeper level about how this has extended ‘The Talk.’ We always talk about ‘The Talk’ that parents of African American males, in particular, but also African-American females have to have to help protect them from police violence. Now we have to extend ‘The Talk’ to the realm of being an observer because we need a protocol for being an observer or a witness to police brutality," Belton told KSTP.

Belton became President and CEO of the Urban League Twin Cities when Jamar Clark was shot and killed by Minneapolis Police in 2015.

When asked if he thinks anything has changed since the killing of people like Clark and Philando Castile, Belton said "perhaps the accumulation of those egregious behaviors, people are now saying that they’re digging in, for the long haul, and that they’re digging in for individual and systemic change."

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"We have a responsibility, we have the capacity for George Floyd, whose voice was taken away to write a song, to write a poem, to write a spoken word, to write a letter to a legislator, to a City Council, to a mayor, to a governor. It’s because now is the moment, now is the opportunity that we have."

Regarding Belton’s discussion of ‘The Talk’, he responded when asked if he thinks the need for it will ever end in his estimation.

"Maybe not in my lifetime but maybe in my kids’ lifetime. We would hope that we don’t have to have the talk, but we know that ‘The Talk’ is absolutely necessary, and one of the things that have happened… that really people of all backgrounds, of faiths, of all races, are connecting to this event, at a visceral level."

Belton added, "regardless of people’s races I am hearing from supporters and allies and people who are just angry and offended and heartbroken and looking for a way to move forward in this moment, and clearly, it is striking at the heart of the African American experience, what it means to be black in Minneapolis, in Minnesota, and in America, but it’s also striking about what does it mean to be human, and to be in a relationship with other human beings, in this moment."

Belton is calling for a special prosecutor and said the Urban League Twin Cities wants a separate, independent investigation into the death of George Floyd.

Belton also shared his perspective on Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, quickly firing the four officers involved, describing his actions as "courageous", adding he does believe it makes a difference to have a black police chief.