NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — This week marks one year since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which sparked nationwide outrage and calls for police reform in cities across the country.
Americans paused in cities all over the world to reflect and remember the tragic death on May 25. But, after so many protests and pointed conversations across the word, we wanted to ask, “What has changed?”
In this week’s In Depth Podcast, we first turned to Minneapolis to the site where former Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for a little over nine minutes.
Our Wayne Cabot spoke with WCCO reports Susie Jones, who said that the biggest change she has noticed over the last year is more awareness.
“I think awareness, probably is the first,” she said. “[People are] more acutely aware of how Black people have had to live for their whole lives with getting pulled over by police more than Whites and also having the fear that any day, if they got pulled over for anything, the fear is always there that they could be killed and that's a reality for them and I don't think a lot of Whites in Minneapolis, and maybe the country, heard much about that prior to George Floyd's death.”
Jones, however, wonders if things after better, noting that Floyd’s death brought consciousness, but maybe not change.
“it brought it to light that it happens, but it hasn’t necessarily stopped it and the problems of injustice for Black and Brown people remain,” she said.
Our Peter Haskell also spoke with University of New Haven professor Lorenzo Boyd, an expert on police-community relations and urban policing, to ask him what he thought has changed in the last year, to which he said is a willingness to have constructive conversations.
“The biggest thing that's changed is we're willing to have the conversation about police reform. We’re even having those conversations inside of police departments, where prior to George Floyd, the police always took a hard line against reform, they always start with anti-police,” Boyd said. “But now, we're starting to see a lot of police officers – a lot of good officers – are acknowledging that there are bad officers doing bad things, much like the stuff that Derek Chauvin has done. Now police officers are willing to have the conversation so, that's a step in the right direction.”
The question is: Are police departments willing to make changes?
“That depends on what the changes are. A lot of police departments are still balking at giving up qualified immunity. They're willing to talk reform if it makes sense but, part of the problem is that the community is angry and they're pushing harder than the police are willing to go,” Boyd said. “Unfortunately, we're in a situation where both sides are kind of against each other. It is one or the other and what we need is something kind of in the middle. We need to make incremental changes and I think that's gonna be the thing to get the police to buy in.”
We asked Boyd what else he thinks should happen now and he told us that he believes it is important for police departments to recognize those who are abusing their power and point them out, before another Floyd incident happens elsewhere.
“The conviction of Derek Chauvin, that was the best possible outcome for good policing. Because now, they can say, ‘We can distance ourselves from these bad cops and if we can hold bad cops accountable, then the good cops will be free to do their jobs,’” he said.
Listen to the full conversations with Susie Jones and Lorenzo Boyd on this week’s In Depth Podcast.