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AARON MORRISON and STEVE KARNOWSKI – Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Murder George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, and the fiery protests that erupted around the world appeared to many observers to be the catalyst needed for a nationwide crackdown on police racism.
For more than nine minutes, a white officer pressed his knee to the neck of Floyd, a black man who was gasping for breath: “I can’t breathe,” echoing Eric Garner’s last words in 2014. Floyd video May 25, 2020 The killing was so painful to watch that calls for change came from across the country.
But amid the deadly coronavirus pandemic, economic uncertainty and a divisive US presidential election, 2020 ended without the major police reforms many had hoped for and others feared. Then 2021 and 2022 did not bring much progress either.
Now, three years after Floyd’s murder, advocates of federal action — such as a chokehold ban and a change to the so-called qualified immunity defense for law enforcement — are still waiting for significant signs of change. The beating the death of Tyro Nichols at the hands of Memphis police officers in early January underscored how long it could take.
US Democratic Representative Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts said during a recent press conference called by Black Lives Matter that she saw no evidence of a “racial calculation.”
“I don’t play around with words like ‘calculation,'” Presley said. “It has to be something of an epic scale. And we certainly haven’t seen a response to the lynching, strangulation, brutality (and) killing of Black lives.”
WHAT HAPPENED IN MINNEAPOLIS?
Shortly after Floyd’s murder, Minneapolis enacted a number of changes, including prohibitions against strangulation and neck restraints, as well as requirements that the police attempt to stop the unlawful use of force by other officers. Minnesota lawmakers approved statewide police liability packages in 2020 and in 2021 yearas well as strict restrictions on useless warrants this month.
The city is still awaiting the results of a federal investigation into whether its police force engaged in a “pattern or practice” of unconstitutional or illegal police surveillance. similar investigation by the state In March, the Department of Human Rights reached what it called a “court-enforceable settlement.” update the police in the city.
A federal investigation could lead to a similar but separate settlement with the city. The police are already in several other cities work under such supervision for violation of civil rights.
“We are changing the culture of our police department — to make sure our officers build and maintain the trust of our entire community,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said Thursday.
In the immediate aftermath of Floyd’s murder, there were calls to defund the police — and instead fund public housing and other services. But electoral measure which had roots in this movement, have failed, even in some predominantly black areas.
An AP review of police funding found that some municipalities elsewhere had made modest cuts that were completely out of step with activists’ calls.
WHAT’S HAPPENING IN MINNEAPOLIS THIS WEEK?
Minneapolis activists have planned a candlelight vigil Thursday night George Floyd Square, the corner where Floyd died. Festival on the Square on Saturday will celebrate the changes in Minneapolis.
In the square, hundreds of flowers and inscriptions swayed in the wind between carved fist statues. Kendrick White and Giorgio Wright, two black men, said they visit the site every day and lead “pilgrimage guides” — or tours — to spread the word about what happened.
About 20 high school students and teachers from California were in their group Thursday. Lee Fertig, head of school at Nuevo School in the San Mateo Bay Area, said they wanted to see how the community was rebuilding.
Gov. Tim Waltz declared Thursday “George Floyd Day of Remembrance” in Minnesota, declaring, “True justice for George Floyd will only come through real systemic change to prevent acts like this from happening again.”
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE OFFICERS?
Derek Chauvin, the white officer who killed floyd and the three other officers who failed to stop him are in jail. Chauvin was sentenced in state court to 22 1/2 years for second-degree murder. Two of the other three officers pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact to manslaughter and received lesser terms, while the third was found guilty by a judge on that count and awaits sentencing.
All four officers were also convicted of violating Floyd’s civil rights.
WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THE PROTESTS?
Protests against racial violence and police brutality have erupted around the world since Floyd’s murder, reviving the Black Lives Matter movement. Videos of US police using tear gas and less-lethal munitions such as rubber bullets have circulated on social media, sparking calls for accountability that have so far mostly come in the form of civil settlements.
New York found 146 officers engaged in inappropriate behavior at protests, including one officer who drove his car into protesters. Independent reviews in PhiladelphiaMinneapolis and Los Angeles also found those departments mishandled their responses.
In some cities, several officers were fired. Some faced criminal charges: In Austin, Texas, 19 officers were charged. There are few convicts.
Minneapolis agreed millions of dollars in settlements with people who claimed they were victims of excessive police force during the unrest that followed Floyd’s murder, including the burning of a police station. Few officers were disciplined.
WHAT IS HAPPENING AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL?
In 2020, federal legislation called the George Floyd Fairness in Police Act showed promise. It would ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants, like what Louisville police have authorized kill Breonna Taylor. It will also create a database listing officers who have been disciplined for gross misconduct, among other measures.
The House of Representatives passed it in 2021, but the Senate could not reach a consensus.
Last year, President Joe Biden signed an executive order that applied key elements of the bill to federal law enforcement officers. On Thursday, Biden renewed his call for Congress to act to bring about “real and lasting change at the state and local levels.”
“I am calling on Congress to pass significant police reform and send it to my desk. I will sign it,” he said in a statement, adding that he would fight to hold the police accountable and work with both sides to find solutions.
Meanwhile, Presley, a member of Congress from Massachusetts, campaigned Termination of Qualified Immunity Acta measure it has reintroduced every year since 2020.
WHAT IS THE FLOYD FAMILY ORDER?
Over the past three years, members of George Floyd’s family have appeared at rallies and spoken out against police violence. A few days after the death of Philaniz Floyd’s brother testified at a congressional hearing about police reform.
While relatives and reform supporters called for changes to the law, George Floyd’s youngest daughter, Gianna Floyd, met with Biden at the White House in 2021. A photo of a Marine holding a door for a 7-year-old child has gone viral.
New York resident Terrence Floyd, who became an activist after his brother’s murder, planned to hold his third annual memorial service at a Harlem church Thursday night. He supported withdrawal efforts and promoted music paying tribute to his brother.
“You have to have faith that it’s going to happen because it didn’t happen out of the blue for Martin Luther King Jr. or Malcolm X. It didn’t happen overnight for Reverend Al Sharpton and Reverend Jesse Jackson,” he said of the significant social change. “You can’t expect it to happen suddenly for us, but it will happen.”
Morrison reported from New York. Associated Press writers Claudia Lauer in Philadelphia, Colin Long in Washington and Tricia Ahmed in Minneapolis contributed to this report.
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