ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota is “hurting beyond words” and Gov. Tim Walz said Friday that he wants swift justice to be carried out.
Speaking sternly about protests and riots following the death of George Floyd, who died earlier this week while in police custody, Walz had this message about Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Attorneys seek outside probe of Floyd's death
(AP) - Attorneys for the families of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor are calling for an independent investigation of the actions leading to Floyd’s death.
They also want national reforms in response to the three deaths.
Attorney Ben Crump said during a news conference Friday that he's asked to take custody of Floyd’s body for an independent autopsy. He and attorney Lee Merritt said they want murder charges brought against the four Minneapolis police officers involved in Floyd's arrest. And they want the Minnesota attorney general to take over the investigation.
Crump says the families from Georgia, Kentucky and now Minnesota have all had to dispel narratives from law enforcement that their loved ones “brought this upon themselves.” They cited an initial report in Floyd’s case that said he threatened police and died of a medical condition.
Videos show an officer kneeling on the back of Floyd’s neck as the handcuffed black man pleads for air.
The attorneys said they'll seek national legislation seeking better training and to lower the burden to charge officers for excessive force.
“Minneapolis and St. Paul are on fire. The ashes are symbolic of pain and anguish.”
The Twin Cities have had three nights of protests with buildings, including a police precinct and a library, being set ablaze.
Dozens of businesses have been destroyed in recent nights, and the violence has spread to cities beyond Minnesota.
There have still been no arrests in the death of Floyd. Four police officers were fired after the incident, which was caught on video.
“Thank God a person had a camera to video it,” Walz said.
During a passionate speech to the state of Minnesota and the country, Walz touched on a number of issues, including protesting in a safe manner.
“I refuse to have it take away the attention of what we need to be working on,” he said. “These are things that have been brewing in this country for 400 years.”
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said the focus now needs to lie on police using deadly force.
While no charges have been filed, Ellison said he wants the state to fix the “broken, shattered society.”
“I believe that the message has been sent and received and that the wheels of justice must turn swiftly,” Ellison said.
State Representative Tina Liebling (DFL – Rochester) also issued the the following statement regarding the death of George Floyd and the subsequent events in the Twin Cities:
“I am heartsick over the events of the last few days."
“The public torture and death of a black man at the hands of the police comes after generation upon generation of similar crimes, most of which have gone unpunished. Without justice, there is no peace. I call upon Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and other authorities to move swiftly to charge and punish the officers responsible for the brutal death of George Floyd."
“At the same time, I call on everyone to express their anger in ways that respect the lives and property of their neighbors. My heart goes out to the Minnesotans whose communities have been devastated by the violence. There are families—including many families of color—who now have nowhere to buy groceries, whose jobs are gone, whose small businesses are burned."
“We need fundamental change in this country to overcome the legacy of slavery and create justice for all. I will continue working with my colleagues in the legislature—especially our legislators of color—to create that change.”
The Minnesota National Guard has been deployed in Minneapolis and aided in the efforts to prevent riots in the area of the police department's third precinct, which was set on fire.
Walz also issued a public apology to CNN, which had a reporter arrested while covering the protests Friday morning.
“I take full responsibility,” Walz said. “This is a public apology to that team.”
The reporter was released a short time after being taken into custody.