State Representative Jim Davnie (DFL – Minneapolis) released the following statement after a video surfaced of a white Minneapolis police officer causing the death of George Floyd, a black resident, in South Minneapolis. “As a Minneapolis legislator, my heart is heavy today. I am heartbroken and angered by the continued cycle of violence provoked by the senseless killing of George Floyd by members of the Minneapolis Police Department. This is just the latest grievous example of a long history of abusive use of force, primarily targeting people of color and indigenous communities, by the Minneapolis Police Department. I appreciate the Mayor’s leadership demonstrated by the termination of the four officers involved. This is an important break in the culture of impunity too common in policing today, and there is much more that swiftly needs to happen at all levels of government to rebuild the critical trust between community members and the police. In order to deescalate the immediate situation and start the process of rebuilding our community I am urging:
On Tuesday morning, like many of you, I watched the video of George Floyd being killed in what I believe is murder at the hands of police. It was horrifying and gut-wrenching and heartbreaking. I called for justice that morning and supported the immediate firing of the police officers involved. I also support the call for criminal charges to be filed immediately by County Attorney Mike Freeman, as I personally believe the evidence we have publicly available is clear enough. When protests began, I advocated for de-escalation, and like many of you I have been deeply concerned by what appeared to be disproportionate use of force by police that I believe only inflamed the situation. I continue to advocate for de-escalation. I support protesters in exercising their right to free speech, and I also support non-violent civil disobedience which has historically proven necessary at times for change. Like many of you, I have also been heartsick to watch the destruction that has transpired. I am heartbroken that it has resulted in loss of access to food, medicine, services, jobs, and even housing that so many families relied on, particularly low-income and transit-dependent members of our community. Families living above some of the burned commercial buildings are now homeless and several local independent small businesses have been devastated. I have been in contact with the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Mayor, and many of my colleagues on the Council. There is work underway to help provide emergency access to food and services for those impacted by these losses. There is work underway to help ensure non-violence and achieve peace as people continue to exercise their right to protest, and that must start with de-escalation of the use of force by law enforcement. There is ongoing work to clean-up and there will be work to rebuild our community assets. It cannot be lost on anyone that the killing of George Floyd is not an isolated incident. Black men in particular, but also indigenous people and people of color (BIPOC), are being disproportionately killed by police in both our city and across our nation. The murder of George Floyd is another horrifying trauma in a wound that is centuries deep and spans immeasurable lives. As a white person I will never know or experience this in the way that so many BIPOC members of our community have. For those of us who are white, we need to listen to BIPOC communities and be allies now more than ever so that we can help achieve a just, safe, healthy, and thriving community for everyone. In the days and weeks ahead, as we collectively process what has happened and discuss how to proceed, there will be difficult decisions over the future of the Minneapolis Police Department. There are calls for defunding or abolition, as many do not feel that reform is enough or even possible. I believe all options are on the table. Whatever direction we collectively decide to go as a city, we all have a right to safety in our community and to feel safe with those we choose to help protect it. Not surprisingly, my inbox is flooded and voicemail filled. As I continue to push for justice and peaceful resolution, and as I work to get information and answers, I also read these messages and respond to many, despite being unable to keep up. I am struck by the thoughtfulness of what I am hearing from so many of you. The personal stories. The emotions. The ideas you share. It is humbling and a privilege to read these deeply private and vulnerable thoughts, and to be trusted with your candid and raw feelings. It gives me hope in all of this. It gives me hope because our city is filled with such loving, passionate, and beautiful people. And I know that with all of you, we can get through this difficult and traumatic moment and emerge better.
I woke up today still heartsick over the dehumanizing death of George Floyd at the hands of MPD officers. These public servants did not serve and protect this community as they are sworn to do. Instead, they took a life from it without any need whatsoever to do so – the exact opposite of their duty. I stood in community last night at the peaceful protest at 38th and Chicago, just a few blocks north of the ward I represent. I saw people come together and care for each other, volunteers pass out hand sanitizer to keep folks safe, and a shared grief that has become too familiar. Later, from home, I saw the same reports as you: dramatic clashes between police and protesters at the Third Precinct, young people and journalists hit by police projectiles, teargas sprayed. I heard from my colleagues who were there that they felt they could not work with officers to deescalate the situation. These reports are alarming, to say the least.
As I’ve said already, I remain committed to doing everything I can to ensure transparency and accountability in this case and going forward. Public information will be posted on the City's website as it is made available. But justice means something more. The decision yesterday to fire the four officers involved in Mr. Floyd’s death was the right first step, but it’s only the first step. The community needs and deserves a comprehensive, swift, and fair investigation. The community needs prosecutors to look long and hard at the evidence and do what’s right. City leadership needs to examine the role of the MPD in this death and others, and not simply admire the problem but move toward real solutions. This is about systemic change, not one-off fixes.
The City Council has very limited oversight of MPD operations, but my colleagues and I do have a platform to elevate the voices of community members demanding better, including in the City's budget process. Those of us in positions of power need to be held accountable. I’m committed to doing better for you, Minneapolis. The reforms we’ve made have not been enough. It is our responsibility to continue working relentlessly to unravel generations of injustice toward our BIPOC neighbors.
I am a public official. I accept your criticism, feedback, input, and outrage. I am grateful to have heard from so many Ward 11 residents demanding more from the City they love – the City that, over these past few days, has let them down. We must move forward together, with tenacity. I invite you to join me in this work, and in remembering Mr. Floyd.
Today, Governor Walz activated the Minnesota National Guard to help protect Minnesotans’ safety and maintain peace in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Local leaders have requested National Guard resources after extensive damage to private property occurred and peaceful protests evolved into a dangerous situation for protesters and first responders. “It is time to rebuild. Rebuild the city, rebuild our justice system, and rebuild the relationship between law enforcement and those they’re charged to protect. George Floyd’s death should lead to justice and systemic change, not more death and destruction. As George Floyd’s family has said, ‘He would not want people to get hurt. He lived his life protecting people.’ Let’s come together to rebuild, remember, and seek justice for George Floyd,” said Governor Walz. “As Governor, I will always defend the right to protest,” Governor Walz continued. “It is how we express pain, process tragedy, and create change. That is why I am answering our local leaders’ request for Minnesota National Guard assistance to protect peaceful demonstrators, neighbors, and small businesses in Minnesota.” The National Guard Adjutant General will work with local government agencies to provide personnel, equipment, and facilities needed to respond to and recover from this emergency. On May 25, 2020, George Floyd died while in custody of the Minneapolis Police Department. The Walz-Flanagan Administration is committed to addressing the systemic inequities and discrimination that led to this incident and seeking justice.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here