George Floyd.

Artwork by local artist Andres Guzman (IG: @andresitoguzman).

The American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Minnesota are jointly calling for a fair, independent and transparent investigation following the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by Minneapolis police Monday evening.

In a 10-minute-long eyewitness video filled with eerie echoes of the Eric Garner case in New York City, a Minneapolis police officer can be seen kneeling directly on the neck of a crying and moaning Floyd, crushing it into the pavement. The handcuffed Floyd cries and moans at least nine times, “I can’t breathe,” and begs the officer, “Don’t kill me.”

Increasingly frantic bystanders are heard telling police to let Floyd breathe and warning them that he wasn’t moving. Yet the officer kept his body weight on Floyd’s neck for four more minutes after Floyd stopped moving at all. At one point, the officer brandishes pepper spray at bystanders who are pleading with police to stop. Other officers appear to do nothing to intervene or help Floyd.

“You can’t watch this appalling video posted by brave eyewitnesses on social media without seeing police officers’ callous disregard for a Black man’s life, and you can’t help but conclude that yet another tragic death was both needless and preventable,” said ACLU-MN Executive Director John Gordon.

“Law enforcement officers too often resort to excessive force in interactions with Black and Brown people, despite their duty to protect and serve everyone,” he said. “These interactions are not new. The systemic targeting of and use of unnecessary force against people of color is woven into the fabric of our law enforcement institutions and stems from the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow in this country.

“The horrifying video of the killing underscores the immediate need for a thorough, fair and transparent investigation into George Floyd’s death,” Gordon said. “The community needs a comprehensive review and the reform of police practices and policies. The officers involved – not just the perpetrator, but also those who stood by and did nothing – must be held accountable.”

 “Nearly six years after Eric Garner’s death in New York — and four years after Philando Castile’s in Minnesota — this tragic video shows how little meaningful change has emerged to prevent police from taking the lives of Black people,” said ACLU Policing Policy Advisor Paige Fernandez. “Even in places like Minneapolis, where chokeholds are technically banned, Black men are targeted by the police for low-level offenses and are subjected to unreasonable, unnecessary violence. Make no mistake: George Floyd should be alive today. For police to call his death a ‘medical incident’ is an insult.”

View our letter calling for an independent prosecution