george floyd protest

Three Police Officers Are FINALLY Being Charged in the Murder of George Floyd

Derek Chauvin's charges have been upgraded to second-degree murder.

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Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has announced new charges against the police officers involved in the murder of George Floyd. Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane were each charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder while committing a felony, and with aiding and abetting second-degree murder manslaughter with culpable negligence. Derek Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd’s neck until he stopped breathing, now faces upgraded charges of second-degree murder. Chauvin was previously charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter with culpable negligence.

And to think, it only took a global protest of hundreds of thousands of people over the course of 7 days.

Benjamin Crump, an attorney for George Floyd’s family, released a statement along with the family saying, “This is a significant step forward on the road to justice, and we are gratified that this important action was brought before George Floyd’s body was laid to rest … That is a source of peace for George’s family in this painful time.”

They added, “These officers knew they could act with impunity, given the Minneapolis Police Department’s widespread and prolonged pattern and practice of violating people’s constitutional rights, … Therefore, we also demand permanent transparent police accountability at all levels and at all times.”

Crump added that the family was grateful for the outpouring of support, and had a message for the protesters: “Our message to them: Find constructive and positive ways to keep the focus and pressure on, … Don’t let up on your demand for change.”

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo fired the four officers and said they were “complicit” in Floyd’s death, but Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman declined to charge the three other officers. Amid public outcry, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz assigned Ellison to take over the case. Keith Ellison was formerly the Representative for Minnesota’s 5th congressional district from 2007 to 2019, in addition to serving as the Deputy Chair of the Democratic National Committee from 2017 to 2018.

Walz issued a statement in response to the new charges, saying

“I laid flowers at George Floyd’s memorial this morning. As a former high school history teacher, I looked up at the mural of George’s face painted above and I reflected on what his death will mean for future generations. What will our young people learn about this moment? Will his death be just another blip in a textbook? Or will it go down in history as when our country turned toward justice and change?”

“It’s on each of us to determine that answer, … The charges announced by Attorney General Keith Ellison today are a meaningful step toward justice for George Floyd. But we must also recognize that the anguish driving protests around the world is about more than one tragic incident.”

“George Floyd’s death is the symptom of a disease. We will not wake up one day and have the disease of systemic racism cured for us. This is on each of us to solve together, and we have hard work ahead, … We owe that much to George Floyd, and we owe that much to each other.”

According to Minnesota law, the charges of second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree murder are punishable by up to 40 years in prison. Manslaughter and aiding and abetting manslaughter are punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

(via Star Tribune, image: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.