Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw released a statement Thursday night regarding the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Floyd, 46, died in law enforcement custody on Monday after police arrested him based on a report of a counterfeit bill being passed at a Minneapolis convenience store.
A video of his arrest, taken by a witness, shows a police officer pinning Floyd to the ground with his knee on Floyd’s neck. In the video, Floyd pleads with the officers that he can’t breathe.
The video has been shared widely on social media and the death of the African American man in police custody has sparked outrage. Floyd’s death has been likened to the death of Eric Garner in New York in 2014, a Black man who died in police custody after being pinned down by an officer during an arrest. Videos of Garner’s arrest — during which he told the officers who put him in a chokehold and wrestled him to the ground “I can’t breathe” — culminated in protests across the country.
On Wednesday, the officers who arrested Floyd — Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng — were fired. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI in Minneapolis said Thursday they were conducting “a robust criminal investigation” into the death and making the case a priority.
Large protests over Floyd’s death began Tuesday in Minneapolis and have grown violent over the past few days, involving the destruction of property through fire and other means. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz called on the National Guard to respond to the protests on Thursday.
In Outlaw’s statement, she said despite Minneapolis’s distance from Philadelphia, the impact is felt all over the country — particularly in communities of color.
“Throughout the nation, communities of color are tired of reliving atrocities such as this over and over again,” Outlaw said. “They’re sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
Outlaw added that as a police officer, she knows “that those of us who work earnestly to serve all communities with fairness and sincerity, have grown weary of our efforts being stained by the actions of those who commit these inhumane acts.”
She also said that as a mother of two Black sons, Floyd’s death hits home.
“I cannot relay enough the helplessness and sadness I feel when my sons, having been children of police officers their entire lives, relay to me that they fear for their lives because of the unjustified fear others have of them,” Outlaw said.
Outlaw also applauded Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo’s leadership during the tragedy.
“He has sent a clear message that this type of conduct, including by those who turn a blind eye, will not be tolerated in his ranks,” Outlaw said. “I share Chief Arradondo’s sentiments, and will continue to work with all of our partner stakeholders to ensure that we are policing with fairness, transparency, and dignity for all communities.”
Outlaw, who became police commissioner in January, joined the force six months after a national investigation showed over 300 Philly officers made racist or otherwise offensive posts on social media. Most of those officers had resigned or retired as of January.