Two Hennepin County commissioners are pressing County Attorney Michael Freeman to charge four Minneapolis police officers in the death of George Floyd.
Angela Conley and Irene Fernando, the board’s first two commissioners of color, sent a letter Thursday to Freeman saying a disturbing video shot by a bystander clearly shows that the officers killed Floyd.
“The community response we are experiencing is directed both at the outrage of this specific killing and the oppressive system that allowed it to happen,” the commissioners wrote.
Conley and Fernando said the Minneapolis Police Department needs dramatic change and sweeping reforms. They wrote that community safety models must be created outside what they called the militarized and white-supremacist enterprise that makes up policing in the United States.
“There were four officers involved in the death of a black man on Memorial Day,” they wrote. “We expect you to charge them to the fullest extent of the law and to spare no efforts in obtaining guilty verdicts.”
The letter wasn’t mentioned at the board’s short meeting Thursday afternoon. Chairwoman Marion Greene made a brief statement about Floyd’s death, saying it had reverberated throughout Minneapolis, Hennepin County and the entire nation.
“Our thoughts are with everybody, especially Floyd’s family,” she said. “I urge everyone to stay safe during the pain and unrest.”
Commissioner Mike Opat said he hadn’t seen the letter and had no comment. Conley and Fernando, both first-termers who represent Minneapolis neighborhoods among other areas, couldn’t be reached for comment.
The board had planned a morning briefing Thursday on reopening plans for service centers and libraries amid the coronavirus outbreak. But Greene canceled it at the last minute because several commissioners had to deal with looting and other issues related to Floyd’s death.
The board did get some business done Thursday, allocating $2.5 million in CARES Act federal funding to provide workforce development services for organizations serving people affected by COVID-19.
It approved $7.5 million for small business relief, adding to the $15 million the board already had allocated for the program. More than 2,000 applications were received, but only half received funding under a lottery process. The additional money will go toward remaining applicants.
The board also approved $200,000 to help the homeless in the American Indian community struggling during the pandemic, including those in homeless encampments. Staffers said about 20% of the homeless population identifies itself as Native American.