LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Community leaders in Los Angeles Friday kept a close eye on the events unfolding in Minneapolis after the Monday death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, at the hands of a police officer.
“I think what makes this unique is we actually saw Mr. Floyd take his last breath and we saw life leave him as he lost control of his bodily functions,” Cheryl Dorsey said.
Dorsey, a retired 20-year Los Angeles Police Department sergeant said the delay in action from officials after Floyd’s death has outraged many and shaken Black communities across the country.
Former officer Derrick Chauvin has since been arrested and charged in connection with Floyd’s death, but the action has not eased that feeling for some.
“And then to further disrespect the family with a third-degree murder, no intent,” Dorsey said. “Of course he intended to murder Floyd. He sat on his neck for nine minutes and watched him beg for his life.”
The video of Floyd’s fatal arrest, shared widely on social media, sparked a flurry of condemnation from police departments and even drew a response from former President Barack Obama who released a statement Friday sharing a comment he received from a middle-aged Black man.
“The George Floyd incident in Minnesota hurt,” the man wrote to Obama in an email. “I cried when I saw that video. It broke me down. The ‘knee on the neck’ is a metaphor for how the system so cavalierly holds black folks ignoring the cries for help.”
The incident also prompted thousands of protesters to take to the streets in L.A. and across the country to demonstrate against the killing of unarmed Black men at the hands of police. In Minneapolis, a precinct was set on fire.
“It really sends the message that Black life is cheap, doesn’t count for anything,” Earl Ofari Hutchinson said. “That it can be disposed of.”
Hutchinson is the president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, a non-partisan public policy forum dedicated to education and community civic engagement.
“If society has sunk to the place where we have become so desensitized to it, where we have become so numb to it, this kind of violence, then, I have to tell you, we are in bad shape as a society; we are a pathetic society,” he said. “We are a society that is sinking fast.”
Both Dorsey and Hutchinson said the only way to restore peace is to break the code of silence among sworn officers and to punish and prosecute those who use unnecessary force and break the law.