Local Leaders Reflect on One-Year Anniversary of George Floyd’s Murder
By Rick Pezzullo—
On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was murdered in Minneapolis, Minnesota by a white police officer while being arrested for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill at a deli.
The police officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds after he was handcuffed lying face down, while three other officers stood by.
On April 20, 2021, Chauvin was found guilty by a jury of second and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter and could face more than 12 years in prison when he is scheduled to be sentenced in June.
On the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s death, which sparked nationwide protests and outrage, several local leaders reflected on the incident and how society and government has reacted to it.
“Today, we mark one year since George Floyd’s life was taken by a police officer. His shocking death was captured by then 17-year-old Darnella Frazier who recorded the horrific nine minutes and 29 seconds that reignited an overdue conversation on racial justice and police accountability,” said State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.
“Over this past year, we have seen people from every race, gender, and demographic come together to demand much needed changes to our justice and policing systems. I am proud of the historic reforms the Senate Democratic Majority has passed under my leadership, and our work is not done,” she continued. “To honor the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Daniel Prude, Adam Toledo, Ma’Khia Bryant, and countless others, we will continue to uplift their names and pass further reforms to ensure New Yorkers’ rights are protected, and communities are kept safe. Accountability is a top priority for the Senate Democratic Majority; everyone deserves to know that their rights and lives are valued.”
Westchester County Executive George Latimer said county officials honored Floyd’s life “through our words and through our actions,” such as creating a Police Reform and Reimaging Committee that made recommendations already put in place by the Department of Public Safety.
“As I said a year ago, George Floyd was murdered. It was not an accident or an overreaction to a moment. He was not resisting arrest. He did not have a weapon to threaten. His words were not a threat to those around him. A sentiment that was echoed by a jury when Mr. Floyd’s murderer was found guilty of his crimes,” Latimer said. “Now, it is on all of us to continue to confront the injustices that were rightfully pushed to the forefront of our collective consciousness. Only through this confrontation and collective action will change finally come.”
Maria Imperial, CEO of YWCA White Plains & Central Westchester, said while remembering the “needless” death of Floyd and other black individuals is “painful and traumatic,” it’s inspiring to see the movement for justice continue.
“The death of black people at the hands of police officers, and the subsequent response, highlights our long history of racial injustice. Racism is a wound cut deep that stems back to the bedrock of our nation’s history and calls out for healing,” Imperial said. “Looking back at this time last year, there were many statements made in the wake of this death, but they are not sufficient. As an organization committed to eliminating racism, the YWCA White Plains & Central Westchester had to look honestly at ourselves, our actions and values, and use our collective voice and our platform to drive positive change.”
“While the country has made progress towards accountability, we know we still have much more to do. Intentional work takes time; prioritizing antiracism remains essential to our work. And commemorating the lives of George Floyd and others continues to drive our organization to be a force for good,” she added. “We will continue to say their names and honor them as they rest in peace.”