tv Minnesota Attorney General Ellison Holds News Conference CSPAN April 20, 2021 10:58pm-11:21pm EDT
-- i can't breathe, i can't breathe. those are george floyd's last words. we can't let those words die with him. we have to keep hearing those words. we must not turn away. we can't turn away. we have a chance to begin to change the trajectory in this country. it is my hope and prayer that we live up to the legacy. may god bless you, and may god bless george floyd and his family. thank you for taking the time to be here. this could be a moment of significant change. thank you.
[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2021] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> shortly after the guilty verdict was announced, the prosecution team joined minnesota attorney general keith ellison for a news conference outside the white house. -- outside the courthouse. attorney general ellison: good afternoon, everyone. my name is keith ellison, attorney general of minnesota. since the prosecution of this case began last may, everyone involved has pursued one goal -- justice. we pursued justice wherever it led. when i became the lead prosecutor, i asked for time and patience to review the facts, gather evidence, and prosecute for the murder of george floyd to the fullest extent the law allowed.
i want to thank the community for giving us that time and allowing us to do our work. that long, hard, painstaking work has culminated today. i would not call today' is verdict justice, however, because justice implies true restoration. but it is accountability, the first step towards justice. and now, the cause of justice is in your hands. when i say your hands, i mean the people of the united states. george floyd mattered. he was loved by his family and friends. his death shocked the conscience of our community, our country, the whole world. he was loved by his family and friends, but that isn't why he mattered. he mattered because he was a human being. and there is no way we can turn away from that reality. the people who stopped and raised their voices on may 25, 2020, were a bouquet of humanity, a phrase i stole from my friend jerry blackwell, a
bouquet of humanity -- old, young, men and women, black and white, a man from the neighborhood just walking to get a drink, a child going to buy a snack with her cousin, an off-duty firefighter on her way to a community garden -- brave young women, teenagers, who pressed record on their cell phones. why did they stop? they didn't know george floyd. they didn't know he had beautiful family. they didn't know he had been a great athlete, and they didn't know that he was a proud father or that he had people in his life who loved him. they stopped and raised their voices and they even challenged authority because they saw his humanity. they stopped and they raised their voices because they knew that what they were seeing was wrong. they didn't need to be medical professionals or experts in the use of force -- they knew it was
wrong, and they were right. these community members, this bouquet of humanity, did it again in this trial. they performed simple yet profound acts of courage. they told the truth, and they told the whole world the truth about what they saw. they were vindicated -- by the chief of police, by minneapoli'' longest-serving police officer and by many other police officers who stepped up and testified as to what they saw and what they knew. what happened on that street was wrong. we owe them our gratitude for fulfilling their civic duty and for their courage in telling the truth. to countless people in minnesota and across the united states who joined them in
peacefully demanding justice for george floyd, we say, all of us, thank you. in the coming days, more may seek to express themselves through petition and demonstration. i urge everyone to honor the legacy of george floyd by doing so calmly, legally and peacefully. i urge everyone to continue the journey to transformation and justice. it is in your hands now. i also want to address the floyd family. over the last year, the family of george floyd had to relive again and again the worst day of their lives, when they lost their brother, father, friend. i am profoundly grateful to them for giving us the time we needed to prosecute this case. they have shown the world what grace and class and courage really look like. although a verdict alone cannot
end their pain, i hope it is another step on the long path toward healing for them. there is no replacing your beloved terry, or floyd, as friends called him, but he is the one who sparked a worldwide movement, and that is important. we owe our thanks to the men and women of the jury, who gave many hours of their time and attention to carefully listening to the evidence, laying the -- weighing the facts, rendering a verdict. they are people from all walks of life, a lot like that bouquet of humanity on that corner on may 25, and in that courtroom. they answered the call and served in a landmark trial. they now deserve to return to their lives. if they ask you to respect your their privacy, we ask you to honor that request. i want to acknowledge the remarkable team that helped us prosecute the case. we put everything we had into this prosecution. we presented the best case that
we could. and the jury heard us, and we are grateful for that. we had the sole burden of proof in the case. and history shows that winning cases like these can be difficult. i am proud of every hour, every minute and every ounce of effort we put in this case and let me tell you, we spent many hours working on this case, did we not? week after week, committee meeting after committee meeting, this team never let up and we fought every day. and we fought together. the attorney general's office along with the hennepin county district attorney's office, thank you. i am deeply grateful to everyone who worked on this case. most folks will tell you it is a bad idea to together a team of all michael jordans.
this team, that was their true strength, sharing the load, passing the ball, understanding that all of us together are smarter than any one of us alone. and that worked. although the verdict has been rendered, this is not the end. in the coming weeks, the court will determine sentencing end and later this summer, we expect to be presenting another case. this verdict reminds us how hard it is to make enduring change. and i want to finish by sharing some important historic legacy. in 1968, a commission was formed to investigate the cause of uprisings across major american cities. dr. kenneth clark, a famous african-american psychologist who along with his psychologist
wife, contributed to compelling research in the brown v. board of education case. and dr. clark testified at the commission, and i want to quote you what he said. "i read that report, the one on the 1919 riot in chicago and it was as if i was reading the report of the investigating committee of the harlem riot of 1935, the harlem riot of 1943 and the report of the macomb commission on the watts riots. i must say again in candor to you, the members of this commission, it is kind of an alice in wonderland, with the same pictures shown over and over, the same analysis, same recommendation and same ending action." those are the words of dr. clark in 1968. here we are in 2021, here we are
in 2021 still addressing the same problem. since dr. clark testified we have seen abner louima, freddie grant, michael gray, for lando casteel, laquan mcdonald, anton black, breonna taylor and now duante wright and adam toledo. this has to end. that is not one case, that is a social transformation that says that nobody is beneath the law and no one is above it. this verdict reminds us that we must make enduring, systemic societal change. more than a month ago, months before george floyd was murder, we released recommendations of our working group for reducing
deadly force encounters with law enforcement. the working group wanted everyone to go home safe. every time someone doesn't, everyone' is lives are changed forever. we need to use this verdict as an inflection point. what if we just prevented the problem, instead of having to try these cases? we don't want any more community members dying at the hands of law enforcement, and their family's lives ruined. we don't want any more law enforcement members having to face criminal charges, and their family's lives ruined. we don't want anymore communities torn apart. one way to prevent this is a new relationship where we as a society re-examine the use of force and our old assumptions. i am so proud of the chief and the minneapolis police officers who, by their testimony, said enough is enough.
and another way to acknowledge it and prevent is lifting up everyone, helping communities. another way to prevent it is accountability -- passing laws and training is important, but there must be more than words on paper and there must be more than accountability for violating them. with this verdict, we have brought accountability. this verdict commands us to never give up hope that we can make enduring change. generations of people said slavery would never indoor jim -- slavery would never end. jim crow would never end, generations said women would never be equal to men, generations said if you were different in any way, you could never be a full and equal member of our society. today, we have to end this tragedy of recurring, enduring deaths at the hands of law enforcement. those are the things we have to focus attention on.
as i close, i just want to say, the work of our generation is to put unaccountable law enforcement behind us. it is time to transform the relationship between community and the people who are sworn to protect them, from one that is mistrustful, suspicious and in some cases terrifying, into one that is empathetic, compassionate and affirming. that will benefit everyone, including police officers, who deserve to serve in a profession that is honored, and departments where they don't have to worry about colleagues who don't follow the rules. now, that work is in your hands. the work of our generation is to put an end to the vestiges of jim crow in centuries of trauma, and finally put an end to racism. we can end it. it doesn't have to be with us
into the future if we decide now to have true liberty and justice for all. the work of our generation is to say goodbye to old practices that don't serve us anymore and to put them behind us. one conviction, even one like this one, can create a powerful new opening to shed old practices and reset relationships. with that, i want to say that i do hope people step forward and understand that nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something. you can do something the way every day people like donald williams and christopher martin and genevieve hansen and all the teenagers and young people stepped up and did something. you can do things like help pass the george floyd justice and accountability act. it is in your hands. let's get the work done. i would like to invite my
partner in justice, michael freedom, hennepin county attorney. >> thank you, mr. attorney general. first i want to extend my sympathy to the family of george floyd. i hope today's verdict provides some measure of closure. i want to say what an amazing job the attorney general did in recruiting a talented team of prosecutors and the supporting staff. they were exceptional. their use of experts, evidence and witnesses left the jury no alternative but to find derek chauvin guilty. the state of minnesota should be proud of this staff of volunteers who assisted the attorney general's and the jobs
they did over the last seven weeks. i am also proud that, from the moment the hennepin county sheriff's office charged derek chauvin with manslaughter and murder after george floyd's murder, our team work side-by-side. the assistant hennepin county attorney joshua larson did witness prep development and strategy, and for the manager of our victim services division, she has been in direct contact for nearly a year now the family of george floyd. victim and witness advocates managed all the witnesses, civilian and professional. my two deputies and i supplied strategic advice and coordination to this talented
team 24/7. these guilty verdicts against derek chauvin cannot be the end of the conversation about officer killings of civilians. we need to prevent these killings in the first place. the minnesota legislature, as it moves into the final three weeks of the session, must pass a number of bills that will make policing fairer and safer for all, but especially for black men and women and other people of color. i have been lobbying legislators to pass these critical bills. if they fail, it will be time to have a statewide task force to hold hearings and come up with model legislation intending to put an end to these deaths. i am prepared to be part of that fight. again, keith, great job. attorney general allison: i would like to ask the trial lawyers if they have any questions. i myself would like to thank a
number of people. why don't we have our trial lawyers come forward, and then we will thank our whole team. >> thank you, attorney general. when i say thank you to attorney general ellison, i want to thank you for calling me back to public service. it was something i was able to do as a federal prosecutor, state prosecutor, as an assistant attorney in the united states army. i thought those days were behind me, but i received a call from keith ellison, and he gave me the opportunity to step back into public service, something that is so important to me, something i cherish. i would encourage anyone, if you
get a call like that as an attorney, it is a privileged life, a noble profession, and if somebody calls you and asks for help, don't overthink it, just do it. because as i have found in my career, you got a lot more than you give. i am honored to have stood with the floyd family, to have stood with the state of minnesota as we go through this painful process together. and it has been my privilege to practice with this incredible, gifted trial team. so i stand here today in gratitude. i am thankful. i want to thank the jury for their service, for doing what was right and decent and correct, and speaking the truth and finding the right verdict in this case. >> i am jerry blackwell. my comments are going to be brief. thank you to all the selfless
servants you see standing here, and the many more you do not see, that had the willingness, the courage, passion, the intestinal fortitude to get into good trouble. they stepped into the light and they shined. thank you. i am grateful to them and grateful for the opportunity i have had to serve. no verdict can bring george "perry" floyd back, but this verdict does give a message to his family that he was somebody, that his life mattered, that all our lives matter. that is important. i also hope that this verdict for the rest of the collective all of us will help us further along the road toward a better humanity. thank you. >> i can't follow that much, but just want to say it has been a privilege to work this awesome
group of dedicated, hard-working people in this endeavor. but it has also been a total privilege to get to know the floyd family, and get to know them and spend time with them. first and foremost, this is for you, george floyd, and your family and friends. thank you. >> let me also thank aaron eldridge, part of our trial team who is not here today, lola velasquez, thank you for the wonderful job you did. josh larson, thanks so much, my friend. zuri, thank you. natasha robinson, i want to thank you and the next generation, the next generation of justice seekers. dion, thank you very much.
boswell, thank you. i want to thank so many people. we are going to close our comments right now and just say we are prepared to continue to pursue justice. thank you. >> rev. al sharpton joined family members and their attorneys for a news conference after the guilty verdict was announced for derek chauvin. >> say his name. >> george