Urban League Twin Cities president reacts to new charges filed in George Floyd’s death

Wednesday afternoon, the president and CEO of Urban League Twin Cities watched the announcement of new charges against the four former police officers involved in the killing of George Floyd with KSTP’s Brandi Powell.

Urban League Twin Cities has set out a list of demands for justice. A portion of them have happened, so far, including, firing, charging and arresting the four now-former Minneapolis police officers involved.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS sat down with Urban League Twin Cities President Steven Belton to get his perspective.

"I think people are collectively holding their breath now, interesting exercise, given that you know George Floyd said, ‘I can’t breathe,’ and so we are all holding our breath now, waiting to see what happens next … I have a personal sense, and I anticipate there’s going to be a collective sense of relief that this is happening now, but it’s not going to take off the pressure of the demand to protest for reform of the system," Belton said in part when asked how monumental it is to hear all officers are facing charges.

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As for what he thinks about the fact the charges were announced on Thursday, Belton said, "I think it results from the fact that we’ve had widespread demonstrations and protest in this community and across this country."

Sunday, it was announced that Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison will lead the prosecution and investigation into Floyd’s death moving forward. Ellison has said that work will take time, possibly months, and has asked for patience while communities rally for immediate change.

"I understand what he is doing, I understand what a prosecutor has to do in this space, which is to allow time for the investigation to take place, they want to careful investigation, and the end result for the justice that we all seek will depend on the care with which they conduct their investigation. At the same time, you have a community and a country that is demanding justice, now," Belton said.

Ellison has also noted that getting a conviction is difficult and has said that’s why it’s important for prosecutors to take their time to get things right.

"It’s an uphill battle always to be able to convict and hold police officers accountable. Police officers and law enforcement have a difficult job," Belton said. "I have family members who are currently… my brother was a sergeant in the Minneapolis Police Department. I have a cousin, whom I love dearly, who is currently a sergeant in the Minneapolis Police Department. I understand the difficulty and the burden of their responsibility. That does not mean, and neither would they say, that they are above the law."

In his announcement Wednesday, Ellison said in part that he, "doesn’t believe one successful prosecution can rectify the hurt and loss that so many people feel … We need new policy and legislation."

Belton said he agrees.

Belton also made it clear that Urban League Twin Cities is still calling for a separate, independent investigation into the killing of George Floyd.