NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) – The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis has sparked protests and conversations over race relations in America.
On Friday night, a protest took place in New Haven.
Floyd could be heard saying, “I can’t breathe” as an officer knelt on his neck. The 46-year-old died shortly afterwards.
“Nothing happens in a vacuum. Part of the problem in Black America is a lot of people are experiencing vicarious trauma,” said Dr. Lorenzo Boyd from the University of New Haven.
Dr. Lorenzo Boyd is the Assistant Provost for Diversity and Inclusion at the University of New Haven. He says the protests that are happening nationwide are the result of paint people are feeling over relationships between communities and law enforcement.
“The grandparents of these people protesting were marching for the right to vote and they had dogs put on them, hoses sprayed on them,” Boyd said.
Kalfani Ture, a former police officer who now teaches criminal justice at Quinnipiac University says there are limited circumstances in which law enforcement can use force. Those situations include self-defense and preserving life.
“There is restraint around that use of force. You only use as much force as necessary to incapacitate the threat, or arrest someone, or keep someone or yourself from harm,” Ture said.
He says Floyd’s death was eerily similar to Eric Garner’s pleas for help.
“I thought simultaneously about the law enforcement community that I have worked with, continue to work with, care about, continue to work with, and thought this is a bad representation of what law enforcement is and can be in Black and Latinx communities,” Ture said.
Looking ahead, Boyd says what’s needed is time and training for police and community members to establish better relationships.
“I think it’s disingenuous to think that we’re going to snap our fingers and then move forward. Because this has been building for generations. This is going to be long, slow, arduous process to build levels of trust,” Boyd said.
A rally against police brutality took place in New Haven at 4 p.m. in front of the New Haven Police Department.
A small number of people gathered for a peaceful rally and the New Haven Police Chief addressed the protesters.
"If you do nothing about it, might as well have had a knee on that individual too. We believe that too," said Chief Tony Reyes, New Haven Police Department.
Following the Floyd's death, The Connecticut Police Chief's Association released a statement.
We have all seen the videos from Minneapolis, where a man has lost his life during an encounter with the police, as well as the aftermath of those actions.
These images are beyond disturbing and cast a stain over the law enforcement profession and the dedicated men and women who strive to protect and serve their communities with honor. As Law Enforcement Officers we recognize that the behavior in these videos reflect failures in police tactics, judgement and training.
Of equal concern is the lack of intervention by other officers on the scene. We are reminded that we are leaders in our communities, especially during a time of crisis. Our oath and our ethics require us to act whenever we are witnessing an unjust act, even by another police officer.
Unfortunately these actions in Minnesota erode the layers of trust, confidence and goodwill that so many police officers have built within their communities, especially those who lead agencies in fragile communities.
Every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, this is the foundation of our profession. Any violation of these core tenets is inexcusable.
“Every day, Every Incident Matters”
-Keith L. Mello
Chief of Police, City of Milford
President, Connecticut Police Chiefs Association
Chairman, Police Officers Standards and Training Council