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Anniversary of George Floyd’s death

On the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, family members and activists continue to push for police reform.

By Marcos Franco, Gabriel Arizon and Cassandra Nava, Staff Writers

May 25, 2021 marked one year since the killing of George Floyd, which sparked protests and civil unrest across the country last summer when video of the arrest surfaced on social media.

The recording shows former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pinning Floyd down with a knee to the back of his neck. Despite pleading for his life and repeating “I can’t breathe” more than 20 times, Chauvin remained in place, kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds. Chauvin was convicted of two counts of murder and manslaughter on April 20. The three other officers involved currently await trial.

Floyd’s death resulted in national and global protests. Protestors chanted “I can’t breathe” and “Black lives matter” to show their support. Latora Greene, co-founder of local organization The Valley of Change, started protesting on the corner of Sepulveda and Ventura Boulevard in honor of Floyd. She stands in front of the Sherman Oaks Galleria every day from 12 to 8 p.m. Yesterday marked 360 days since Green first started protesting.

On the anniversary of his death, thousands of people gathered throughout the nation advocating for legislation and commemorating Floyd’s life. Protesters took to the streets of Minneapolis, New York and Los Angeles, bearing artwork, flags and posters in honor of Floyd.

President Joe Biden addressed the nation in an official statement “To deliver real change, we must have accountability when law enforcement officers violate their oaths, and we need to build lasting trust between the vast majority of the men and women who wear the badge honorably and the communities they are sworn to serve and protect.”

Floyd’s family met with Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House on Tuesday to honor their loss and continue pushing for criminal justice reform.

“It’s a pleasure just to be able to have the chance to meet with [Biden and Harris] when we had that opportunity to,” Philonise Floyd, George’s brother, told reporters outside the Oval Office. “We’re just thankful for what’s going on and we just want this George Floyd Policing Act to be passed in the future.”

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 increases accountability for law enforcement misconduct and is currently awaiting a vote in Congress, which is the last step needed before Biden can sign it into law. If passed, the act would “remedy racial profiling” by law enforcement by restricting no-knock warrants and banning chokeholds.

For Los Angeles, Floyd’s killing drew flashbacks of the 1992 beating of Rodney King, where all four officers involved were acquitted on assault charges and three of four for the use of excessive force.

According to an analysis by the LA Times, the LAPD killed 34 people in Los Angeles in 2020. As of May 25, 2021, 11 people have been killed at the hands of the police. Organizations such as Black Lives Matter have called for defunding the police and overall reform.

Last November, voters of LA County allocated 10 percent of the county’s locally-generated revenue by investing into alternatives to incarceration including job training, youth development and housing aid through Measure J.

Protesters take part in The Valley of Change organization that closed the Ventura and Sepulveda crossroad during the march for the anniversary of George Floyd's murder. Tuesday, May 25, Sherman Oaks Galleria, Calif. (Photo by Arevik Saroyan/The Valley Star)

“One of the big takeaways around the uprisings and attention to the Movement for Black Lives is there is more attention on public budgets,” said local organizer of Dignity and Power Now Ivette Alé to the NY Times. “People know how much communities are spending on police and incarceration. You can’t unknow that.”

According to ABC, three investigations into the LAPD’s actions during last summer’s protests — including one conducted by the department itself — found fault in the police’s handling of them, claiming that police made matters worse by disrupting peaceful gatherings.

The LAPD acknowledges its mistakes and is updating their crowd-control management protocols. The shift focuses on de-escalating and minimizing confrontations as well as the use of force.

"We're going to do a better job this next time. I pray that there's not a next time, but our command and control, our training of our personnel, the tools and resources they have will be up to the task," said LAPD Chief Michel Moore to ABC.

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