The European Commission commented today on the incident in Minneapolis in the US where a black man suffocated to death after a police arrest earlier this week.
The incident happened on Tuesday (26 May) following an arrest of George Floyd, 46, for unclear reasons. A video shows Floyd on the ground, without posing any threat to the police, with a police officer pressing his knee into his neck while another officer is holding back protesters who are trying to tell the policemen that Floyd is suffocating. Floyd can be heard begging for his life and repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe” until he falls silent.
The incident has caused widespread anger and outrage in the US where black people for years have been unproportionally targeted by the police and have suffered more than other Americans during the coronavirus crisis because of their deprived socio-economic conditions.
Riots broke out in Minneapolis and a police station was set on fire Thursday night. President Trump threatened on Twitter to deploy the national guard and use violence to quell the looting in the city.
The four policemen involved in the arrest of Floyd were immediately fired by the police department in Minneapolis but none of the them have yet been charged or put in custody while the investigation takes place.
The European Commission does usually not comment on issues that are not linked to EU policies but this time its foreign policy spokesperson made an exception. Asked on Friday by The Brussels Times for a comment, he expressed EU’s “deepest condolences and sympathies to George Floyd’s family and friends. What has happened is a tragedy, and we understand their pain, sadness and anger.”
“It is essential that the authorities take serious action to prevent such tragedies and to ensure justice is done when they do occur. While the investigation is still ongoing, we trust that the US judicial and law enforcement institutions will take all actions necessary in this regard.”
“The apology from the Minneapolis police department to the family of the George Floyd and the removal of the responsible officers have been steps in the right direction. And with the investigation ongoing, there may also be additional steps taken in the future. Effective policing and law enforcement have an indispensable role in our societies for ensuring public safety. However, procedures must be applied without discrimination and prevention systems must be put in place to avoid such tragedies and ensure full respect for the human rights.”
“Public demonstrations are understandable given the circumstances; however, the expressions of public discontent need to remain peaceful and lawful. In the end, we have seen time and time again that violence is never the answer,” the spokesperson concludes.