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Erie County Executive issues comments on the death of George Floyd

PRESS RELEASE


Erie County Executive issued the following statement on the death of George Floyd: 

Two night's ago I watched the video of the death of George Floyd. While it was very difficult to watch, as an American I felt I had a responsibility to do so. The following is what I wrote and posted on social media after viewing it. I hope you will read it and join me in our continuing efforts to rid this nation of police brutality and systemic racism.
Sincerely yours,
Mark Poloncarz
Homicide is defined as the death of a person at the hands of another. Tonight, I watched the full 9 minute video of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. His death is clearly a homicide. 
It is very difficult to watch the video and comprehend what you are seeing. You are not watching a TV docudrama or movie. You are watching the last moments of a man who was handcuffed with his hands behind his back, lying on his chest, as a police officer pressed his knee against Mr. Floyd's neck for many minutes in a row, while other officers stood by and did nothing.
You are watching a man who pleads for his life. You are watching a man die.
Mr. Floyd was clearly not a threat to the officers. The bystanders who recorded the incident knew he was in distress and were pleading for the officer to stop. The officer would not lift his knee even though Mr. Floyd had clearly passed out, and he kept doing it after emergency medical technicians had arrived and began to work on Mr. Floyd.
It is disturbing. A man was killed at the hands of another. A homicide was committed. The officers must be brought to justice.
Police officers have difficult jobs. I know the actions of these officers are not reflective of the vast majority of law enforcement who every day honor their pledge to serve and protect the general public.
However, we cannot deny that an unarmed black male has a much higher risk of being killed by law enforcement than anyone else. The names of these men, and sometimes even children, have become ingrained in the narrative of our society today: Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and now George Floyd.
We also cannot deny the systemic racism that exists in our country. We as a nation cannot ignore this issue. This is not an African-American issue. This is an American issue.
If we are to truly live up to one of the most basic ideals our nation allegedly stands for – justice for all – the officer must be charged and prosecuted for the crime he committed: the homicide of George Floyd. The other officers must be charged, too; for their wanton disregard of Mr. Floyd's life, and their failure to honor their oath to serve and protect.
And we can't stop there. We must work together to rid our nation of the cancer that afflicts it: racism. This cancer has led to so many deaths through the years, and many of those persons' names are part of our lexicon, too. Trayvon Martin. Ahmaud Arbery. Names we should never know, but we do because they were killed because of the color of their skin.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. used to say "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." If we are to live up to the ideals of Dr. King and honor his life, a life taken far too soon, and the lives of all the others, including now George Floyd, we must end these injustices.

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