CHICAGO – During his daily COVID-19 briefing, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker responded to protests in Minnesota over the killing of a black man by a white police officer. Pritzker also reiterated his belief that President Donald Trump is a racist.
Pritzker expressed condolences to all African-Americans and in particular to the family of George Floyd. It came just hours after a Minnesota prosecutor charged officer Derek Chauvin with third-degree murder and manslaughter in the restraint death of George Floyd.
Floyd is the handcuffed black man whose cries of “I can’t breathe” in a widely seen cellphone video set off days of violent protest in Minneapolis and around the country.
The white officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for at least eight minutes in the video. Floyd can be seen gradually becoming motionless as Chauvin and three other officers ignored bystanders’ shouts to get off him.
President Donald Trump added fuel to racial fires, calling violent protesters outraged by the death of a black man in police custody “thugs” and reviving a civil-rights era phrase fraught with racist overtones. On Friday, he threatened to take action to bring the city of Minneapolis “under control.” And he tweeted that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” which Twitter quickly flagged as violating rules against “glorifying violence.”
Asked about Minnesota during Thursday’s daily briefing in Chicago, here is how Governor Pritzker responded:
“From the very moment that I announced my decision to run for governor three plus years ago, I said this president was a racist, a misogynist, a homophobe and a xenophobe. And I was right then and I am right now. His tweets, his reaction, his failure to address the racism that exists in America, his stoking of the flames in sometimes subtle, sometimes not so subtle ways, is completely unacceptable. Its reprehensible in fact. I’m outraged by what he does in response to these situations. I cannot imagine the rage and the fear that must be felt by a black American watching what happened to George Floyd. The threat that comes to every black American under color of law, that they see in a video like that.”
“Even when these videos come out, even when so many of us have the feeling of ‘its time for a major change.’ And we work for that change, somehow for black America it never really comes. And that’s unacceptable. And to me, the progress that should have been made, has failed.”
“We have so much that we need to accomplish in this country but especially we need to address the underlying racism that clearly exists. And I will be a bull work of change and somebody who believes to my core that we must change. And I want to send my condolences to the family of George Floyd and also to every African-American in this country.”