Justice Advocates Express Relief Over New Charges in Floyd Case

Mike Moen | Public News Service
The police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis has resulted in global protests over the treatment of African-Americans by police. Photo Credit: Unsplash

MINNEAPOLIS — All four former Minneapolis police officers involved in the death of George Floyd now face criminal charges.

Justice advocates say they have mixed feelings about the latest developments in the case.

The office of Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is now overseeing the investigation.

Ellison says Derek Chauvin, the white officer caught on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck for several minutes, is now charged with second-degree murder. And the other three officers involved have been charged as well.

Michelle Gross, director of Communities United Against Police Brutality, calls it a first step in establishing systemic changes in honor of Floyd and all the other black individuals victimized by authorities.

“We have so many changes that need to be made and people have cried out for these changes for so long, only to be ignored,” she states. “So now the next step has to be, you know, sitting down, figuring out what it is that we need to do to bring about the changes so that something like this never, ever happens again.”

Gross and other advocates say they’re not convinced the state’s civil rights investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department will result in anything substantial.

The Department of Human Rights insists its probe will be thorough in examining mistreatment of black residents by police.

Derek Chauvin was initially charged with third degree murder and manslaughter before the new charges were announced. The other three officers are charged with aiding and abetting a murder.

Their union leader said he will fight for their jobs, while blaming city and police leaders for the protests and chaos that erupted in Minneapolis following the incident.

Jaylani Hussein is executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations – Minnesota, part of a broad coalition of groups demanding justice for Floyd’s death. He agrees that there’s mixed emotion in the air following Wednesday’s announcement.

“It’s generally a relief at this moment, but we are we are not going to be satisfied until the system that killed George Floyd is also transformed,” he stresses.

Hussein, along with Floyd’s family, say they want Chauvin charged with first-degree murder. But Gross says that could complicate matters by requiring the involvement of a grand jury and hindering any hopes of securing a conviction.