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A memorial was erected for George Floyd in the days after he was killed. The area, commonly referred to as George Floyd Square, was the site of his death while he was being apprehended by Minneapolis police officers.

Political leaders offered statements after the April 20 news that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted on all counts in the murder of George Floyd.

Rep. Cedrick Frazier (DFL-New Hope) submitted this statement:

“While I am pleased with the outcome of today’s verdict, this isn’t justice in my eyes. Derek Chauvin will face the consequences of his actions, but George Floyd is not here to hold his daughter close. As a father to three young girls, as a Black man in Minnesota, I know very well that this verdict does not change the fear and reality so many folks across our state are forced to navigate. Now more than ever, we need to continue the same drive and engagement to create a system of public safety that values Black life. We have work to do, Minnesota.”

House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley) offered a joint statement with House Speaker Melissa Hortman and a series of tweets after the verdict was announced, including a photo from George Floyd Square with the caption “Justice today is beautiful.” Another tweet read: “I hope this verdict brings a small measure of closure to George Floyd’s family. But this verdict will not prevent the next police killing of unarmed Black Minnesotans. Only meaningful change to policing and our criminal justice system can do that. Our work continues.”

Sen. Ron Latz (DFL-St. Louis Park) wondered “what’s next” in a statement:

“This is what we expect from a fair and impartial judicial process. One person has been held accountable for his own actions. We must also remember that a conviction in one case does not address the inequities in our public safety and criminal justice systems. Our work to reform these systems must continue until we achieve real change that will help prevent future injustices. While the arc of history bends toward justice, we must apply the pressure to bend it. Let’s keep pushing.”

Congressional District 5

Rep. Ilhan Omar offered this statement:

“Today’s verdict is a major step on the path towards justice and accountability. I thank our incredible Attorney General Keith Ellison and the prosecution team, who successfully prosecuted a law enforcement homicide—notoriously difficult cases to successfully prosecute and held a murderer accountable on all charges.

“While today’s conviction is a necessary condition of justice, it is not sufficient. For centuries, Black people have faced violence at the hands of the state in our country. For centuries, systemic inequalities in the form of housing, income, education, and criminal justice have plagued our country—holding us back from our creed of liberty and justice for all. Let this be a turning point, where we finally create a society that reflects the belief that all men and women are created equal. Let this be the moment where we implement a broad anti-racist agenda to root out the inequalities that continue to plague us.

“That is what drove Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement. It is what motivated nonviolent movements from South Africa to South Asia to the American South. It is what drives the Black Lives Matter movement today. And it is what must drive our elected leaders.”

On Twitter, the congressional representative offered a list of 13 “stops” on “the path to justice.” Those included demilitarizing police departments, banning racial profiling, restoring felon voting rights and investing in a public-health approach to the addiction crisis.

County commissioners

Hennepin County Commissioners Irene Fernando and Jeff Lunde recognized their relief and gratitude for the verdict, respectively, in separate statements submitted via Twitter.

Lunde offered a set of commitments as chair of the county public safety committee, including decriminalizing small offenses, developing mental health and addiction services, reducing the cost of interacting with the criminal justice system, and working to divert youth from crime.

Fernando continued that the verdict was “not justice.”

“George Floyd should be alive today. Our current systems of policing still don’t serve and they actively work to harm the lives of BIPOC people.

“This verdict doesn’t change the reality that we must create compassionate systems of public safety for our communities. This verdict doesn’t address any of the root causes. The same system and laws that permitted and protected the murder of George Floyd are still in place.

“We should know now more than ever that we have so much more work to do. Our residents have a right to continue protesting and they deserve to be treated with respect—not with militarization, chemical irritants, and rubber bullets.”

Robbinsdale, Golden Valley city leaders

In Robbinsdale and Golden Valley, the verdict stirred up discussion among council members during regular meetings.

The verdict was mentioned during the council communication portion of the Robbinsdale City Council meeting. The council members echoed Councilmember Sheila Webb’s commendation of Attorney General Keith Ellison and the jury.

“I think the jury got it right,” said Webb. “And I think as a nation we have to continue down the path of accountability, and reforming and transforming systems on every level.”

Going forward, Webb encouraged her fellow city leaders to commit to “be comfortable being uncomfortable” when speaking about racial issues occurring with the city, and personally committed to “never be done” using her spot on the council to keep the issues on the forefront.

Councilmember Tyler Kline said the verdict “confirmed what we all watched on video a year ago.” He agreed that there was work to do, mentioning the ongoing situation in Brooklyn Center.

“I spent the morning dropping off supplies to my former high school in Brooklyn Center because that community is boarded up due to an officer-involved shooting,” Kline said.

Mayor Bill Blonigan thanked his fellow council members for their support to their Brooklyn Center neighbors the past few weeks.

“This is a watershed moment in dealing with racism, we’re not at the top of anything right now, we came out of the basement and now we’re sort of on the ground floor,” Blonigan said.

The Golden Valley City Council opted to highlight anti-racism work occurring at the police and other city departments before beginning the regularly scheduled agenda, a discussion that spanned nearly 90 minutes.

Police Chief Jason Sturgis updated the council on the department’s preparations for the trial results. He said due to an anticipated lack of outside resources for suburban departments in the west metro, the departments had formed mobile field forces trained to respond to potential “bleedover” of protest or looting activity. Sturgis said Golden Valley specifically had assigned three of its officers to the forces, which had met in the last few months and was activated for the first time at the request of the city of Brooklyn Center. Sturgis said the multi-department force had not been activated the last few days.

The Golden Valley department had extra officers on duty due to the verdict, but they weren’t needed, reported Sturgis.

“Everyone is in a very celebratory mood ... That’s how it appears to be across the Twin Cities right now,” Sturgis said.

Mayor Shep Harris discussed pretextual traffic stops, in which officers pull over vehicles for small infractions like window tint, broken lights or an air freshener hung from the rear-view mirror, as was the alleged reason Daunte Wright was pulled over before he was shot earlier this month. Specifically, Harris mentioned resident feedback he had been given about a city program that ended pretextual stops with coupons for repairs.

“The stress that is induced as a result of the stop – before getting that coupon – may not be worth it, right now,” said Harris.

Sturgis said due to the difficulty of getting tabs renewed on time due to the pandemic, the department had decided that registration and similar infractions were currently “not a primary reason for stopping a vehicle.”

Copyright © 2021 at Sun Newspapers/ APG Media of East Central Minnesota. Digital dissemination of this content without prior written consent is a violation of federal law and may be subject to legal action.

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