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Statement by Mayor Jenny A. Durkan on the killing of George Floyd

Seattle (May 29, 2020) – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan issued the following statement regarding the killing of George Floyd:

The officers who killed George Floyd violated their most solemn duties to protect lives and uphold the law. They should be investigated and prosecuted, and the U.S. Department of Justice should immediately commence an investigation. 

“The videos are hauntingly too familiar and horrifying to watch. The last words “I can’t breathe” were the same as those of Eric Garner, killed by police almost six years ago in New York. 

“The cruel and degrading treatment of Mr. Floyd before his death was not only unnecessary but reflected the deep and systemic impacts of racism in our country. It also starkly illustrates the realities that generate the fear and distrust of law enforcement experienced disproportionately by communities of color, particularly African Americans.  

“This is not just a Minneapolis problem. We must demand better than this everywhere in our country. It begins by acknowledging the reality of institutional racism and its insidious impacts, and then by working to eradicate it through broad cultural and institutional change.

“SPD Chief Carmen Best has spoken out forcefully on the Floyd case and expectations for every police officer in Seattle. 

“Almost ten years ago, I helped lead a civil rights investigation into the Seattle Police Department, which found a pattern and practice of unconstitutional policing with regard to the use of force, particularly against individuals in crisis. I worked with a broad based group of civil rights organizations during the investigation and in shaping the Consent Decree as U.S. Attorney. 

“Ten years later, we see departments can be reformed. It take years of deep cultural, policy and training work — coupled with leadership and commitment from every officer and from the Chief of Police. But the work is far from done. SPD must have a culture of continuous improvement, and we must continue to address the racial disparities that recent reports have highlighted.”