South Bend Common Council Responds To Death Of George Floyd, Calls It A 'Brutal Public Killing'

Jun 4, 2020

Protesters walk through the streets of South Bend on May 30th, 2020 to demand justice for George Floyd and to stop police violence.
Credit Annacaroline Caruso / WVPE Public Radio

The South Bend Common Council released a statement Thursday in response to the killing of George Floyd who died after a white Minneapolis Police Officer knelt on his neck for nearly 9 minutes.

The council called the incident a quote “brutal public killing” that sparked anger and frustration in the community.

The council also says South Bend understands racial injustice. Eric Logan, a black man, was shot and killed by a white South Bend police officer in June of last year.

In the statement, members of the common council said they will continue fighting for justice for Eric Logan’s family and work to stop violence between police and residents.

The council also mentioned the discipline matrix, which is a system that would be used to penalize police. They say the pandemic slowed the progress on creating the matrix and discussion on a citizens review board.

Second District Council member Henry Davis, Jr. is the only council member who did not sign the document. Davis released his own statement saying in part "I appreciate my colleagues and their statement of empathy for George Floyd. However, there are many victims of police abuse and some reside in South Bend. I am not a signatory on the statement because I believe this moment requires more than a statement. We are lawmakers. I believe that our Common Council can legislate for transformation."

 (Read the Common Council's full statement below)

 Members of the South Bend Common Council condemn the brutal public killing of Mr. George Floyd. These are harsh words, but no words are harsh enough to express the anger, frustration, and fear caused by the scenes that have played out on television and social media innumerable times over the past week. We share in the outrage and disappointment regarding the actions of a police officer who continued to force his knee on Mr. Floyd's neck while other officers stood in inactive silence. The only words heard were Mr. Floyd's, crying “I can't breathe” and calling for his dead mother,  

Some have these feelings because they see it in terms of a black man and a white police officer. Others share these feelings because they see it in terms of a man accused of a minor crime being killed on our streets without even a chance for justice. Still others share these feelings because Mr. Floyd's death is another example of the disregard some in our society have for human life.  

Whatever the precise reason for a person's feeling of outrage, there is no denying the history of black men being killed by white police officers. That outrage has been, and continues to be, felt locally through the killing of Eric Logan last year.  The original outrage is compounded by an investigation into the shooting which left many valid questions unanswered in many people's minds. This outrage stems from historical injustices and racial disparities that have existed in our country for hundreds of years. It must change and it must change now 

The residents of South Bend apparently understand the problem of uncontrolled and unnecessary violence better than many others. They expressed their outrage, frustration, and fear through peaceful calls for change instead of the violence and property damage caused by a small number of people that played across our television screens over the past weekend. You demonstrated that we are better than that.  Just as the South Bend Common Council continues to fight for change and justice in the wake of condolences expressed for Eric Logan's family, the Common Council extends its sincere and deepest condolences to Mr. Floyd's family and friends, as well as to the with the aftermath of the murder. In doing so, the Council continues to demand justice and dignity for all. 

In that regard, the Council will continue to work to eliminate acts of violence between police and residents as we continue to build trust between police and residents. Before the COCID-19 pandemic slowed everything down, the police, the Mayor, citizens, the Board of Public Safety and the Council were working on a policy matrix regarding use of force and equality of justice for all residents of South Bend.

 


The Common Council is also studying and will consider the possibility of a citizen review board for policing in South Bend, together with other legislation working towards inclusive justice.