‘There was no empathy or humanity in his death. This was not an anomaly.’
Five days after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officers, Gov. Tony Evers said in a statement Friday that Floyd’s “life matters and his family deserves justice,” while also saying we must “confront our comfortability with racism.”
“Earlier this week, another Black life was extinguished before our eyes. His name was George Floyd. He was 46. His life matters and his family deserves justice,” said Evers.
Evers joins a growing chorus of voices from law enforcement officers from across Wisconsin in condemning the actions that led to Floyd’s death.
Floyd was killed Monday after officers were called to investigate alleged forgery at Cup Foods, a grocery store.
He was unarmed. He died after officers placed him face down in the street and an officer kept him in that position for over eight minutes with his knee on his neck.
“There was no empathy or humanity in his death,” said Evers. “This was not an anomaly. We hear the echo of the words of Eric Garner.”
Garner was killed following an encounter with New York police officers in 2014. His death, like Floyd’s, was filmed by witnesses. An officer held Garner in a choke hold. Like Floyd, Garner’s last words were “I can’t breathe.”
Evers cited the deaths of Black Wisconsinites like Dontre Hamilton, Ernest Lacy and Sylville Smith who also died after encounters with police officers.
Hamilton was killed April 30, 2014, after a Starbucks employee called the police on him for sleeping in Red Arrow Park in Milwaukee. Hamilton, who suffered from schizophrenia, was shot 14 times by a Milwaukee police officer. The officer was fired for his actions leading up to the shooting, but not for his use of force.
Lacy died in June of 1981. He was stopped by police investigating a rape that was later discovered he did not commit. He died of respiratory distress in the police van.
Smith was shot and killed by a Milwaukee police officer in August of 2016. The officer was fired for a separate incident related to sexual assault.
“Frustration and anger about systemic injustices are always justified,” Evers said. “Folks in Wisconsin should be able to protest peacefully and to report on these events without the fear of being unsafe or arrested.”
“We must see the trauma, fear, and exhaustion of being Black in our state and our country. We must offer our empathy, we must offer our support, but most of all we must offer our action. The solution isn’t in one person, it’s in all of us, together,” said Evers.
“We must confront our comfortability with racism. We must reestablish trust with communities of color,” he added. “We must be willing to listen, we must be willing to be uncomfortable, we must be willing to do the work.”