‘I don’t think we get another chance to fix this,’ governor says after visiting site of George Floyd’s final moments
(CNN) — After thousands rallied across the country protesting George Floyd’s death, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz visited the site where the anguish started.
Walz said he’s been wanting to visit the scene where Floyd spent his final minutes pinned to the ground with an officer’s knee on his neck. The site has turned into a massive memorial for 46-year-old father.
But “I very much worry about white politicians appropriating black pain. And that’s certainly not it,” Walz said Wednesday. “I have to personally and viscerally feel this.”
“It’s unfortunate I’ve become friends with mothers only because their sons were killed,” the governor said.
And like the protesters demanding justice for Floyd and an end to police brutality, Walz said America must change now.
“I don’t think we get another chance to fix this in the country,” he said. “I think being at the heart of this and seeing the community’s pain so viscerally, this is going to have to be that change that we look for.”
One officer was fired and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, but protesters are demanding three other officers who did not intervene in Floyd’s death also are charged.
The Minnesota attorney general’s office has made a decision about additional charges, two law enforcement officials briefed on the state’s investigation told CNN on Wednesday.
One of the officials said the attorney general will make a significant announcement Wednesday afternoon, but did not say what the decision is.
Protesters practice civil disobedience across the US
Peaceful protesters defied curfews and stayed on streets late Tuesday to demand change after another unarmed black man died at the hands of police.
The eighth night of protests had less violence, fewer police clashes and more acts of civil disobedience than the night before.
Some mayors said the unprecedented curfews helped prevent violence, which officials say has been fueled in recent days by outside instigators and extremists who aren’t really protesting Floyd’s death.
Floyd died last week after he was pinned to the ground by a Minneapolis police officer who had his knee on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes, 46 seconds.
In Philadelphia, protests culminated Tuesday with nine minutes of silence.
In Los Angeles, a group of protesters knelt with their hands up in peace signs outside the home of Mayor Eric Garcetti as they waited to be arrested. In Atlanta, where days ago a police car was set on fire, a large crowd marched peacefully through the same area.
And after what New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called “coordinated criminal activity” and looting in parts of the city the night before, protests over Tuesday night looked completely different, de Blasio said.
People marched through Manhattan, with some store owners, residents and supporters lining the sides of the streets and cheering on demonstrators.
Though there were some instances of looting, it was nowhere as widespread nor chaotic as it was Monday night.
“We want peace,” Joseph Haynes, a demonstrator in Los Angeles, told CNN’s Kyung Lah. “Look at all these wonderful people out here. Look at us. And this is not just black people.”
Floyd’s family has pleaded for all protesters to be peaceful. His brother publicly called for an end to violence. And Roxie Washington, the mother of Floyd’s 6-year-old daughter, spoke about how Floyd’s death will forever change their daughter’s life.
“He will never see her grow up, graduate. He will never walk her down the aisle. If there is a problem she’s having and she needs her daddy, she does not have that anymore,” Washington said of Floyd’s daughter, Gianna. “I am here for my baby, and I’m here for George because I want justice for him.”
Where Floyd’s case stands
Derek Chauvin was the officer who had his knee of Floyd’s neck for almost 9 minutes, according to a prosecutor’s statement.
Chauvin was fired the day after Floyd’s death and has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. A court appearance is scheduled for Monday.
Three other officers were at the scene, but did not intervene. They have also been fired, but have not been charged.
Floyd family attorney Ben Crump said he expects the other three officers will be charged.
“We think all of them should be charged with some type of felony murder for participating in the horrific killing of George Floyd,” Crump said.
An independent autopsy found that the knee on Floyd’s neck as well as two other officers’ knees holding him down contributed to his death.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who is leading the prosecution in the case, vowed to “hold everyone accountable who is legally culpable.”
But he said all evidence must be thoroughly examined. “I am not going to create a situation where somebody can say this was a rush to judgment,” Ellison said.
Elie Honig, a CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, said the charge against Chauvin was clear just from the cell phone video. But a criminal case against the other officers would require a more thorough examination of their actions — or lack thereof.
“The key questions are what did each officer see and hear, and what did each officer physically do and say,” he said. “You have to be able to recreate that moment by moment in order to determine whether they’re criminally liable.”
Gov. Walz said the Minnesota Department of Human Rights is launching a civil rights investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department, which will look into practices from the last 10 years.
The inquiry will try to determine whether police engaged in “systemic discriminatory practices towards people of color and ensure any such practices are stopped.”
Conflict, confrontations and counterprotesters
While Tuesday night’s protests were much more peaceful than the previous night, there were some skirmishes.
Milwaukee police fired tear gas after agitators threw rocks and glass at officers.
In Los Angeles, hundreds of protesters were arrested, LAPD spokesman Tony Im said.
In New York City, at least 40 protesters were arrested Tuesday.
Some residents have filed formal complaints against officers’ conduct during protests. The Seattle Office of Police Accountability received about 14,000 complaints about the conduct of Seattle police during demonstrations over the weekend, spokeswoman Anne Bettesworth said Tuesday.
Pockets of counterprotesters have also emerged.
In Boise, Idaho, police formed a line between the hundreds people who showed up for a vigil and some counterprotesters holding American flags and Blue Lives Matter flags, CNN affiliate KBOI reported.
Maintaining the peace and making change
New measures have been taken to help improve safety of the demonstrations and concerns at the heart of the protest.
Facebook said Tuesday that it had shut down pages and accounts whose members were discussing bringing weapons to the protests.
The activity was tied to a group called American Guard, according to Facebook. The Anti-Defamation League says American Guard “has a background with connections to anti-immigrant extremism, hatred, and violence.”
To provide relief for businesses that have been harmed during protests, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a $10 million fund on Tuesday.
Lightfoot also put forward a police accountability reform measure for “some immediate necessary next steps on our journey toward reform.”
Measures “critical to resolving our crisis” will be implemented within the next 90 days, Lightfoot said.
“I stand with those who are sick and tired of the lack of fundamental change,” Lightfoot said. “Change that results in the respect, dignity, and freedom that black people deserve in this country.”
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