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Following the Murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police, the Momentum for Change in Unlike Ever Before


Nico Emmanuel-Henderson

(503) 662-8800

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JUNE 3, 2020


MINNEAPOLIS, M.N.— The murder of George Floyd made waves across the country. In the week since, his tragic last words have echoed throughout the streets, offices and homes of those mourning the loss and faced with a deep sense of hopelessness — I can’t breathe. George Floyd’s killing in broad daylight represents not only the failures of a single department to value and protect black lives, but the depravity of humanity to stand by while a historically unjust system remains a force of devastation for millions of Americans. This is a time for mourning and reflection, but it’s also a time for action. YEP is an organization expressly dedicated to the reform of all policing infrastructure that perpetuates these injustices. Now more than ever, it’s clear that not only is it necessary to improve training mechanisms but also to advance policy proposals curtailing the decision-making process for officers altogether.  


As much as we can all empathize with the family of George Floyd in this unbelievably difficult time, it’s equally important to demand a concrete underwriting of change that will sustain without the tragedy of another family losing a son. We write this statement over a week since this occurred and that is because YEP has been working tirelessly to use this momentum for good. For real change. For Floyd. 


As you are seeing night-after-night, in all 50 states, America is fed up. We are fed up with a system of policing that does not respect, care, or learn from instances of white supremacy at the hands of police officers across the country. As an organization comprised solely of young people, we work tirelessly to prevent applications of use-of-force or mental and physical terrorization at the hands of officers; both for those youth captured on film, and also for those who aren’t recorded and who’s cries for help will never be heard. America and the policing system as we know it, does not work for the people. We are disgusted by this and every other incident of police brutality and murder that have sowed discontent in our cities and left families without sons, daughters, and children. 


It is even more disheartening that in a moment like this, it requires the mass mobilization of bodies and a broadscale show of humanity in the streets to motivate change and achieve justice. YEP and its staff stand with the protestors showing up and putting their safety and lives on the line to push against injustice. It moves YEP to work even harder to change policy and training.

What we can say today is the following. Police brutality is a symptom of a broken system. Deny it as much as you want, but even the actions of a few speak to the system as a whole and there’s an inescapable reality that racism and white supremacy are woven into justice system. However, that does not mean our situation is hopeless. YEP has, and will continue, to work to put the perspective of the community at the forefront of the action we take to change police behaviors nationwide. Here in Portland, we are committed to ensuring police officers understand the demands of young people and youth of color. It’s time for the Portland Police Bureau to commit to restorative practices and engagement practices predicated on support and not force. Elsewhere, YEP is working to coordinate policies congruent with the mission of our organization. Youth deserve to be heard, supported and most importantly, to be protected. We are here for this work.


All Power to All the People.


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