It’s been a year since Minnesotan George Floyd became a household name. In that year, we learned a lot about his life, and what led to his death.
On May 25th, 2020, George Floyd was cruelly murdered in broad daylight by a Minneapolis police officer. Despite the cries of brave bystanders who tried to step in, he died in the street, calling out for his mother, with a cop’s knee on his neck. Another Black life cut short by police violence.
Minnesotans took to the streets to demand change. But has anything actually changed? Here’s what has happened in the year since George Floyd’s murder, and what has yet to be done.
The conviction: a rare win for justice
Millions waited with bated breath as the jury in Derek Chauvin’s trial made their decision. Here in Minnesota, many of us still mourned Philando Castile and the other victims of police violence whose killers were never held accountable. It’s incredibly rare for a police officer to face legal consequences, even with damning evidence of misconduct. More often than not, police officers, quite literally, get away with murder.
But thanks to the bravery of the Minnesotans who took the witness stand and the tireless work of the prosecution team led by Attorney General Keith Ellison, justice finally prevailed. George Floyd’s killer, convicted.
While Minnesotans celebrated the decision, a conviction can’t bring George Floyd back to his loved ones. And as we’ve seen across the country in the weeks since, one court case won’t stop police brutality.
That’s why we need real, systemic change.
The policy change: taking steps toward accountability
Because police departments are municipal, many changes to policing must happen on a city level. In some cities, those changes are underway. For example, the city of Brooklyn Center passed a number of reforms after a young resident, Daunte Wright, was killed by police. However, some cities have done little, if anything, to combat racist police violence.
In the legislature, progressives are pushing for statewide reform. Earlier this year, a new law went into effect to curb the use of excessive force by police officers. The Police Accountability Act of 2020 also bans the use of chokeholds and requires autism and mental health training for officers.
These new laws are a good start, but we can do more. We can, and we must.
We’re not done yet
Sadly, not everyone is willing to do the right thing and enact more meaningful reforms. As the POCI (People of Color and Indigenous) Caucus put it, “Republican colleagues continue to devalue our lived experience and the experience of our communities as they use our calls for change as bargaining chips to secure tax cuts for the wealthy.”
They’re right. Conservatives in the legislature are holding police reform measures hostage to further their regressive agendas. They care more about protecting tax loopholes for billion-dollar corporations than protecting the lives of People of Color in their communities.
That’s not acceptable, and we need to hold them accountable.
What you can do
Make your voice heard.
Sign this petition to demand that the legislature pass police accountability bills. Find out who represents you in the legislature and call on them to stop police violence. Call on elected leaders in your city to take action. Share this blog with your friends and family to keep them in-the-know.
Together, we’ll work to end police violence, hold conservatives accountable, and create a better Minnesota.