Families demand legal changes to prevent more police killings

Artist Dennis Owes, 31, from Ghana, puts the finishing touches on his portrayal of George Floyd at a rally on Sunday, May 23, 2021, in the borough of Brooklyn, New York.  George Floyd, whose death on May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis was filmed, pleads for air while trapped below the knee of former officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of murder and manslaughter guilty in April 2021 (AP Photo / Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

Artist Dennis Owes, 31, from Ghana, puts the finishing touches on his portrayal of George Floyd at a rally on Sunday, May 23, 2021, in the borough of Brooklyn, New York. George Floyd, whose death on May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis was filmed, pleads for air while trapped below the knee of former officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of murder and manslaughter guilty in April 2021 (AP Photo / Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

AP

Parents and siblings of black men killed by police urged people during a discussion in the town where George Floyd was killed a year ago to join them in pursuing legal changes that, according to them, could make similar deaths less likely in the future.

The panel, convened Monday in Minneapolis and hosted by the George Floyd Memorial Foundation, founded by Floyd Bridgett’s sister and moderated by prominent Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson, was part of a series of events marking the first anniversary of Floyd’s death on May 25. .

Family members of Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Daunte Wright and other black men killed by police gathered for a discussion on the state of the police in the United States and racial inequalities in the frequency of fatal encounters with law enforcement.

Families also discussed the role of lawmakers in making changes to hold police accountable and how community members can support loved ones of those killed by police.

“You don’t have to lose a child to have this passion,” said Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin. “We need allies, we need people to support us and pick us up when we have fallen and when you all have fallen we have to all get up.”

Gwen Carr, Garner’s mother, described her meetings and conversations with lawmakers over six years to push through a law banning the use of chokes, among other measures, after an officer used the technique in the death of his son. In one case, Carr and other New York City mothers brought makeshift coffins to the State Capitol in 2015 after unsuccessful attempts to meet Governor Andrew Cuomo in person.

“I don’t believe in writing letters. I don’t believe in phone calls. I like to face them… I tell them what my demands are – not my demands, but my demands, ”she said.

Several states have moved to ban or severely limit the use of chokers and neck straps after Floyd’s death last year. At least 17 states, including Minnesota, have passed legislation to prohibit or restrict the practice, according to data provided to The Associated Press by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Families also discussed the rarity of convictions in cases of black men killed by police and whether convictions alone amounted to substantial liability. Allisa Findley, whose brother Botham Jean was killed in her home in September 2018 by former Dallas officer Amber Guyger, said families, activists and citizens must “keep pushing” despite Derek’s conviction Chauvin – who was convicted of murder. and manslaughter last month – for Floyd’s death to prevent similar murders in the future.

“I don’t consider a conviction to be justice. Belief is responsibility and what should happen, ”she said. “The fact that we are celebrating the few convictions is sad. A conviction should be mandatory if you commit murder, so I think there is still a lot of work to be done. “

Later that day, outside the Capitol in St. Paul, a handful of activists and family members of the victims held a press conference and demanded that lawmakers pass legislation that holds authorities accountable in the future and reopens police abuse cases from the past.

“There is so much on the table now that people can come by and sign to prevent such things from happening,” said Katie Wright, mother of Daunte Wright. “But everyone is just taking their time on this. And if we continue to take our time and be silent, I don’t want anyone else’s family standing here with me next week or the week after because it’s happened to them.

Johnathon McClellan, chairman of the Minnesota Justice Coalition, complained that Congress failed to pass the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act and that Minnesota lawmakers failed to make changes to background “despite the fact that they were at zero”.

After the speeches, dozens of protesters led by a group of Native American dancers began a march around the park and streets of the Capitol in the neighborhood, beginning with the chant “No justice, no peace”.

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Mohamed Ibrahim is a staff member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a national, nonprofit service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on secret issues.


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