May 29, 2020

Following Days of Protests in Minneapolis after George Floyd was Brutally Killed, Duckworth Calls for Justice, Accountability and Healing


[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) released the following statement after the brutal killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer and days of violent protests in the city:

“This week, we watched a fellow American be needlessly killed as he cried out that he couldn’t breathe. It’s painful and heartbreaking to watch George Floyd's final few moments on camera. My thoughts and deepest condolences are with his family and loved ones.

“It’s hard to see this sort of senseless killing happen again and again—whether it’s in Illinois, Kentucky or Minnesota or anywhere else. The families of those killed deserve justice and accountability. That’s one of the reasons why the second bill I ever introduced in the Senate was the Police Training and Independent Review Act to require better police training and take prosecutorial decisions out of the hands of local prosecutors. Unfortunately, Republicans refuse to accept we have a problem here and this bill hasn’t moved through Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Senate.

“But we can’t wait. We need action now. We needed it before George Floyd, Laquan McDonald and Breonna Taylor—not to mention countless others—were killed. Because people are scared right now that their son or daughter could be the next victim of this sort of excessive police force. Too many of our fellow Americans don’t have faith that police-involved deaths will be fairly investigated, and they don’t have faith these families will ever see justice.

“To those in Minnesota and across the nation: you have every right to be outraged. I’m outraged, too. Let us be vigilant in our words and actions to achieve our shared goal justice and accountability. Violence should never be the answer to violence.

“We also cannot ignore the insidious and outright un-American responses from Donald Trump. He encouraged police officers to bash suspects heads on squad cars when making an arrest, he cheered largely white protesters who stormed a state capitol with semi-automatic rifles while threatening violence against elected representatives and now he's literally suggesting shooting those protesting the senseless death of a black man. Whether it's calling Mexicans rapists, racializing this pandemic as the ‘Chinese virus’ or his reaction to the injustice of excessive police force now, his racism is obvious.

“This is a time for unity, healing and justice. For us all to honor lives that have been needlessly lost and turn sadness into positive action and progress. Though Donald Trump continues to show us he is incapable of helping accomplish those goals, I will work with like-minded colleagues to do more and to do better for Americans everywhere—regardless of the color of their skin. Our nation can and must do better.”

Senator Duckworth’s Police Training and Independent Review Act would help restore trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve by helping prevent police-involved deaths and encourage independent, impartial investigations into law enforcement officials’ use of deadly force. It would create a financial incentive for states to require training for law enforcement officials on fair and impartial policing as well as best practices for working with members of the community who are disabled and mentally ill. It would also encourage communities to use independent prosecutors to investigate law enforcement officials’ use of deadly force by authorizing the U.S. Attorney General to award grants to states that require an independent investigation and, if warranted, prosecution in cases where one or more of the alleged offenses result in death or serious bodily harm.