Family attorney: 'Pandemic of racism and discrimination' killed George Floyd

Family attorney: 'Pandemic of racism and discrimination' killed George Floyd
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The attorney for George Floyd’s family said Thursday the "pandemic of racism and discrimination" killed the Minneapolis man, who died in police custody last week. 

“I just want to put it on the record...that it was not the coronavirus pandemic that killed George Floyd,” attorney Benjamin Crump said Thursday during a memorial for Floyd in Minnesota. 

“[It was the] other pandemic that we’re far too familiar with in America, that pandemic of racism and discrimination that killed George Floyd,” he added. 

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Crump urged the public to join in protests against “evil” and “inhumane” actions like those recorded on video of Floyd’s arrest.

Quoting the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, he encouraged attendees to join demonstrations and push to make the "Constitution real for all Americans," specifically naming multiple other black Americans who died at the hands of police or under questionable legal circumstances, including Michael Brown, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland and Ahmaud Arbery.

“What we are really doing is having America live up to its creed. What we’re really doing is having America be the great beacon of hope and justice for all the world to marvel, but most importantly, brother and sisters, what we are doing is having America be America for all Americans.” 

Crump noted that due to COVID-19, speakers at the memorial had to stay on a strict schedule and those in attendance had to follow social distancing. 

Video footage of the memorial showed nearly all attendees, including lawmakers who came to honor Floyd’s life, wearing face masks and coverings. Some attendees were wearing masks that said “I can’t breathe,” the words Floyd was heard saying before he died as an officer knelt on his neck for several minutes. 

Floyd likely contracted and recovered from the novel coronavirus at the time of his death, according to an autopsy report released by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office earlier Thursday. 

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The county’s autopsy ruled Floyd’s cause of death was cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement. The autopsy differs from an independent autopsy that ruled Floyd’s cause of death was asphyxia due to neck and back compression. 

Both autopsies ruled Floyd’s manner of death was a homicide. 

The officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck, Derek Chauvin, was fired and has been charged with second-degree murder. His charge was initially third-degree murder, but Minnesota Attorney General Keith EllisonKeith Maurice EllisonMinnesota lawmakers blast pharmaceutical industry lawsuit over insulin affordability law OVERNIGHT ENERGY: DOJ whistleblower says California emissions probe was 'abuse of authority' | EPA won't defend policy blocking grantees from serving on boards | Minnesota sues Exxon, others over climate change Minnesota sues Exxon, others over climate change MORE (D) announced Wednesday the charges would be upgraded

Ellison also charged three other fired officers who were on the scene — Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane — with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

During the memorial, eight minutes and 46 seconds of silence was held to commemorate Floyd’s death and the number of minutes the ex-officer knelt on his neck before Floyd died. 

“Somebody said, ‘reverend eight minutes is a long time,’” Rev. Al Sharpton said, leading the crowd in the silence at the memorial. “That minute was long enough for the police to understand what they were doing … long enough for whatever this officer had in mind for him to rethink. As you go through these eight minutes, think about what George was going through laying there for those eight minutes begging for his life.”

—Updated at 4:10 p.m.