In the midst of nationwide protests regarding the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, City Councilor Jesse Lederman issues the following statement:
"George Floyd should be alive today. Justice must be served for him and his family.
The ongoing protests and events unfolding in Minneapolis are what happens when a community has been failed time and time again by the systems that profess to serve justice.
It is yet another wake up call that our country has still failed to confront the historic and deep inequities and inconsistencies that exist in our criminal justice system and in the relationship between police and communities of color.
What should concern us all is that this could quite literally happen anywhere, and it has in fact happened time and time again in our country. I’ve listened this week as members of our own community have spoken out regarding their experiences, in Springfield and beyond. The pain present in the video footage from Minneapolis is palpable, but I see and feel it in our own community too.
This morning I spoke with our own Police Commissioner. She confirmed that the actions of the officer who pinned George Floyd down by the neck with his knee is not something that the Springfield Police Department allows, and that the department's use of force policies emphasize the need to avoid pressure on the neck and spinal regions in the event that force is utilized in an arrest.
I have met many, and worked closely with some, Police Officers in our city during my time as a City Councilor through efforts to implement community based models of policing. I have seen officers save lives, comfort families, and put themselves at great personal risk to protect others.
I have also worked closely with community members and fellow Councilors to advance reforms in police oversight and review, including efforts to pursue departmental accreditation, implementation of body worn cameras, and multiple attempts to implement a Police Commission.
But I know that our own city has still not done enough. As elected officials we must do more to bridge the gap, to address and right the past wrongs, and to forge a more just future.
I am committed to that mission, and as always I welcome our community, from residents to police officers, to reach out to me directly to discuss their concerns and their ideas."