Connecticut leaders are speaking out about the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white officer knelt on his neck.
A video that showed Floyd begging for air as a police officer was seen kneeling on his neck has sparked outrage and protests across the country. Some have turned violent, leading to looting and fires in Minnesota's Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. That officer, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
On Friday, the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association released a statement:
"We have all seen the videos from Minneapolis, where a man has lost his life during an encounter with the police, as well as the aftermath of those actions.
"These images are beyond disturbing and cast a stain over the law enforcement profession and the dedicated men and women who strive to protect and serve their communities with honor. As Law Enforcement Officers we recognize that the behavior in these videos reflect failures in police tactics, judgement and training.
"Of equal concern is the lack of intervention by other officers on the scene. We are reminded that we are leaders in our communities, especially during a time of crisis. Our oath and our ethics require us to act whenever we are witnessing an unjust act, even by another police officer.
"Unfortunately these actions in Minnesota erode the layers of trust, confidence and goodwill that so many of you have built within your communities, especially those who lead agencies in fragile communities.
"Every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, this is the foundation of our profession. Any violation of these core tenets is inexcusable.
“'Every day, Every Incident Matters'"
“There’s another virus that is plaguing the faith community and while we’re gathered I feel like talking about that and that’s racism,” said Pastor Kelcy Steele of Varick Memorial Church in New Haven.
Mayor Justin Elicker also released a statement, pointing out that Connecticut has seen its own struggles with racism in the communities. He pointed to two recent cases that touched his city.
"New Haven is not Minneapolis. Connecticut isn’t Minnesota. But we have struggled with racism in our community as well. Last year we saw Stephanie Washington and Paul Witherspoon shot by Hamden and Yale police officers near the Hamden border. And early this year, we lost Mubarak Soulemane—a New Haven resident. He was nineteen years old. He was black. He was killed by a State Police officer.
"Police Chief Reyes and I have talked countless times about our Police Department’s role in our community. The Chief’s and my expectations are clear – that we don’t over police and that New Haven police officers treat all residents fairly and with compassion. We have worked hard to ensure the police department reflects the “Community Policing” that we so often talk about in New Haven, and we will continue to do everything we can to work toward that vision," his statement read in part.
Black Lives Matter New Haven is responding to Floyd's death Friday afternoon. The rally is also a response to comments made by the city's police chief about early released prisoners allegedly causing new violence in New Haven.
In Hartford, a group gathered for what they described as an "I Can't Breathe" rally, stressing that their goal was for a peaceful event.
Gov. Ned Lamont also commented Friday.
"Well you can look at those scenes from Minneapolis - There are a lot of reasons you'd be angry and a lot of reasons to think that this is not a society that includes all of us and leaves some people behind," he said at a press briefing. "I saw that and I said I look at my police, I look at my municipal police, I look at my state police, I Iook at my teachers, I look at my administration and I said I want a police force that looks like the community, that's one of the things I saw. As I said before, when I look at the amazing faith leaders behind us, it requires each and every one of us to stand up and remind people every day when it means to be all of a common humanity."
Sen. Richard Blumenthal also decried the death and demanded justice.
" George Floyd died as he begged for life. Virulent racism must be eradicated. It is intolerable that yet another Black American has been killed cruelly & unconscionably. There must be accountability. Justice must be served," Blumenthal said in a tweet.
Blumenthal and Sen. Chris Murphy are among a group of federal legislators who are calling for an investigation into what they're calling the "patterns and practices of racially discriminatory and violent policing in the Minneapolis Police Department."