Some Minneapolis officers, activists vow support for department change

Person wearing a law enforcement uniform speaks at a podium.
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo speaks at a press conference Wednesday. Arradondo said he planned to make sweeping changes in how business is done in the department in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

A group of Minneapolis police officers on Thursday condemned the former officer charged with murder in George Floyd’s death, and said they're ready to back the police chief’s promised overhaul of the department.

Fourteen officers signed an open letter Thursday addressed to “Dear Everyone — but especially Minneapolis citizens.”

The letter says Officer Derek Chauvin “failed as a human” and “stripped George Floyd of his dignity and life.”

The letter makes no mention of three other officers charged with aiding and abetting. All four were fired the day after Floyd's death on a south Minneapolis street.

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The officers who signed the letter say they represent “hundreds” of other officers and that they are ready to embrace Chief Medaria Arradondo’s plans to change the department. Arradondo on Wednesday announced the department was pulling out of contract talks with the union and promised other major changes are to come.

The fourteen officers signing the letter were mostly sergeants and lieutenants. The department currently has about 850 officers.

Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder in Floyd’s May 25 death. Bystander video shows Chauvin, who is white, pressing his knee into the neck of Floyd, a handcuffed black man, and ignoring his cries for help, even after he eventually grew still.

Amid growing calls to defund the Minneapolis Police Department, a group of African American community leaders also expressed support for Chief Arradondo.

Activist Nekima Levy Armstong joined the president of the Minneapolis NAACP and faith leaders in endorsing the chief’s efforts to reform the department from within.

Nekima Levy Armstrong
Nekima Levy Armstrong speaks at a news conference outside City Hall in Minneapolis Thursday, where she and members of the black community expressed their support for Minneapolis Police Chief Arradondo and his efforts to reform the police department.
Jim Mone | AP Photo

Levy Armstong said without a plan and a seat at the table for community leaders, talking about defunding the department amounts to pandering. A majority of council members have expressed support for defunding the Police Department, but have not yet offered a specific proposal for doing so.

"We are fed up with what has been happening in this city, we expect accountability from our leaders, we expect courage, we expect compassion and we expect the African American community to have a seat at the table. Nothing about us without us,” Levy Armstong said.