June 1, 2020 - Minneapolis, MN — Steven Belton, President and Chief Executive of Urban League Twin Cities issued the following statement:
The protests in Minneapolis, St. Paul and across the country in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Derek Chauvin, fired Minneapolis Police Officer and three other fired MPD officers, are a logical and necessary response to the horrific and cowardly violence perpetrated by the officers who killed Mr. Floyd. The demonstrations are not spontaneous, but a rational and inevitable reaction to decades and centuries of violence at the hands and knees of law enforcement and white mobs against black bodies without accountability or reckoning.
We applaud and defend lawful protest, which is our constitutional right. Demands for justice, accountability and change should be expected and welcome, even when those expressions are angry, urgent and disruptive. Calls for peace are hollow in the face of unaddressed injustice.
Rioting, looting and burning of property, however, are not acceptable means of protest and only demonstrate the intent of those who commit such acts to coopt the misery of the moment for their own selfish gains. We do not condone violence. We condemn what appears to be calculated and tactical conduct by a few to disrupt the expressions of grief and lawful protests of the many.
The violence is a diversion. In this moment, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor deserve to be mourned and their lives celebrated and honored by their families and communities. We the people have the right and responsibility to hold our government accountable for addressing the pandemic of violence against African Americans and the egregious and excessive use of force by police officers.
The Urban League Twin Cities calls for the following measures:
- Immediately arrest and charge the three former police officers that restrained Mr. Floyd and along with Derek Chauvin caused his murder.
- Appoint an independent, outside investigator and a special prosecutor.
- Appoint an independent, civilian-lead panel to review and reconstruct state police training and licensing protocols. Evidence of excessive use of force must explicitly be named as a basis for license revocation.
- Pass legislation mandating the appointment of an independent investigator and special prosecutor for all officer involved shootings in Minnesota.
- The legislature must appropriate and the philanthropic sector match funds to support and restore African American and African descendant businesses, neighborhoods, families and individuals destroyed, disrupted or displaced by violence following the killing of George Floyd.
Protest shall and should persist. Violence has no place and is unwelcome. Justice must commence and continue without further delay or distraction. Justice delayed is justice denied.