Police Chiefs Condemn George Floyd Death After Protests Intensify

Police chiefs in Minneapolis and Chicago lamented the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody. Anger over Floyd's death has inspired protests in the Minneapolis neighborhood where Floyd was killed and around the country this week.

Protesters surrounded the 3rd Precinct in Minneapolis Wednesday night, breaking windows. Police used tear gas and rubber bullets in an attempt to dispel the protesters. Wednesday night, over 30 fires were set and businesses were looted. On Thursday, protests spread to New York, Chicago, and other areas of the U.S.

At a Thursday news conference, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo apologized to Floyd's family.

"I am absolutely sorry for the pain, the devastation the trauma Mr. Floyd's death has left on his family, his loved ones and our community," Arradondo said. Arradondo also said that he acknowledged that his department had contributed to what he referred to as a "deficit of hope" in Minneapolis.

Chicago Police Superintendent David O. Brown released a Thursday statement saying that what happened in Minneapolis made relations between police officers and citizens difficult across the country.

"Any officer who abuses their power or stands by and allows it to happen does not deserve to wear the badge, period," Brown wrote.

Philadelphia Police Department Commissioner Danielle Outlaw highlighted the impact of Floyd's death on minority communities in a statement issued Thursday.

"Throughout the nation, communities of color are tired of reliving atrocities such as this over and over again," Outlaw wrote. "They are sick and tired of being sick and tired." She also said that many law enforcement officers "have grown weary of our efforts being stained by the actions of those who commit these inhumane acts."

The four officers involved in Floyd's death were fired by the Minneapolis Police Department, but Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey called Wednesday for the arresting officer in the case to be charged. "If most people, particularly people of color, had done what a police officer did late Monday, they'd already be behind bars," Frey tweeted.

Newsweek reached out to the Hennepin County Attorney's office for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

george floyd, protests
Police chiefs spoke out against the death of George Floyd on Thursday in the aftermath of violent protests in Minneapolis. Stephen Maturen/Getty

The attorney for Floyd's family, Benjamin Crump, said in a Thursday statement that the protests were understandable, but that demonstrators "cannot sink to the level of our oppressors and we cannot endanger each other as we respond to the necessary urge to raise our voices in unison and outrage."

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he had ordered both the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to begin looking into the case. On Thursday, the DOJ released a statement calling their investigation into the officers' actions a "top priority."

Floyd died on Monday after officers attempted to arrest him for suspicion of forgery. Allegedly, Floyd had attempted to use a counterfeit $20 bill at a store. According to the Minneapolis Police Department report, Floyd resisted arrest.

Video of the event shared on social media captured Floyd saying, "I can't breathe" as an officer had him pinned to the ground. In response, one of the arresting officers can be heard to say, "He's talking, so he's breathing." When the Minneapolis Fire Department arrived, they discovered Floyd had no pulse and was unresponsive.

Updated 8:04 p.m. EST 05/28/2020: This story has been updated to include a statement from Philadelphia Police Department Commissioner Danielle Outlaw.