Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Local officials' statements on George Floyd's death, protests

Posted By on Wed, Jun 10, 2020 at 11:32 AM

click to enlarge At a June 2 news conference, Colorado Springs Police Chief Vince Niski called George Floyd's death "not only tragic..but it was wrong [and] unjustified." - FAITH MILLER
  • Faith Miller
  • At a June 2 news conference, Colorado Springs Police Chief Vince Niski called George Floyd's death "not only tragic..but it was wrong [and] unjustified."

Below, we've provided statements from local law enforcement and public officials regarding the May 25 death of George Floyd, a black security guard in Minneapolis, and subsequent protests against police brutality. Some of these statements were provided to the Indy, while others were issued directly to the public.

District Attorney Dan May

Statement provided to Indy on June 9:

I offer my deepest condolences to George Floyd, his children, loved ones and friends. His tragic death has sickened and horrified people around the world and I stand with all who call for justice to be done. Police officers take an oath to protect and serve and I believe most do so honorably.

Our mission as prosecutors is to seek truth and justice – a mission we share with peaceful protesters who have taken to the streets. In the days ahead, my hope is that we may work together and listen to each other in order to make changes that will benefit all people in our community, regardless of race or class. There is much work to be done, but we are grateful for – and support those – who are fighting against inequality and racial injustice and whose voices are being heard by an anguished nation.

Mayor John Suthers

Public statement June 3, when announcing curfew order:

First, I again want to recognize the people of Colorado Springs who, for the most part, have exercised their first Amendment rights peacefully and effectively in daily protests. We all feel the weight and the tragedy of the death of George Floyd, and we hear the calls for change from protesters. Our police department continues to engage with members of the community to further understand their viewpoints and experiences and conduct ongoing productive conversation.

Unfortunately, as darkness falls, we have seen these protests deteriorate into violence and damage, and this poses a risk to both the public and to our Police Officers. We had hoped not to get to this point, but in the interest of public safety, we are implementing a temporary curfew. Our city will continue to diligently protect citizens’ rights to free speech, but it will in no way tolerate unlawful, violent or destructive behavior.

Public statement June 8, when announcing that he would let the curfew order expire:

A tremendous amount of credit belongs to our citizens who have engaged in speech and assembly in Colorado Springs in the highest traditions of social action in America. They have been vocal and passionate about their worthy cause, but respectful of their fellow citizens and public and private property. My sincere gratitude to leaders of the protest who have steered those protesting police brutality away from other groups who do not share their message and their commitment to nonviolent methods.

Police Chief Vince Niski

Public statement May 29:

This week has been filled with pain and anger; and as the ripple effects of Minneapolis reach our city, I wanted to reach out directly to our community. Over the last few days, I have thought deeply about what are the right words to say, but nothing could amount to the frustrations we all feel. I recognize that our nation — for all its strengths and promises — has an unresolved divide, especially when it comes to police and community relations. Videos such as the one involving Mr. Floyd have only caused a deeper rift here at home as we continue to build bridges in our own community.

The most honest and transparent thing I can say to all of you is that incidents that happen 1,000 miles away do not represent your police department or your community. Our officers are committed to upholding the law, protecting and serving our community, and most importantly, strengthening the trust of those who grant us the privilege to serve them. We hold ourselves to a high standard, and will hold ourselves accountable when we fall short.

Despite uncertainty and discomfort, I find hope in the progress we are making every day and in the strength of the community we serve. We know there is room to grow and more work to be done. We accept that with open arms and will stay steadfast in our belief that compassion, understanding and unity are what will bring us closer together.

Public statement May 31:

Over the past few days, I have thought deeply about what I can say as your City’s Chief of Police that would make a difference following the events that transpired in Minneapolis. As I reflected, I came to understand that there are no words that could fully provide stability after the video has caused so much strife, pain, anger, and a negative perception of law enforcement across our entire nation. Instead, I want to give you my honest outlook.

I am not in a position to sit in judgment of another law enforcement organization or their employees. From what I have seen and what I know about use of force procedures the actions of the police in Minneapolis were questionable and tragic. In being transparent with everyone, I am saddened. I am saddened by Mr. Floyd’s death, as every life is precious. I am saddened watching videos of communities being burned in protest, as violence is never the answer. And lastly, I am saddened to see trust in law enforcement diminish, as the actions of a few do not represent us all.

News conference June 2:

I can tell you that what I saw in the video was not only tragic, but it was wrong, unjustified, and was not in service to the people those officers swore to protect.

Sheriff Bill Elder

Statement provided to Indy on June 4:

Like many law enforcement leaders across the nation, I am outraged at the senseless death of George Floyd. Those responsible are a disgrace to those who wear the badge and took an oath to serve and protect. The actions of these men have been an absolute betrayal of the most essential piece we need to be effective in public safety, community trust.

Standing proudly in peaceful protest against the actions that cost George Floyd his life is your right. It is expected, and we in public safety will protect those who do. But you must do so peacefully. Mr. Floyd’s murder does not justify the mayhem, the damage, and assaultive behavior this community is experiencing nightly in the streets of Colorado Springs and across this country. Assault, murder, looting and vandalism are not protest. They are criminal actions that cannot and will not be tolerated.

Police officers are not perfect, but the overwhelming majority are professional, respectful and selfless human beings who live in the communities they serve. On a daily basis, they run towards gunfire, as normal people run away. All too often, they lay down their own lives to protect people they have never met.

It is my expectation is that every member of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office needs to be a willing and enthusiastic ambassador of peace and information to the community we pledge to serve.

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