After George Floyd was murdered at the hands of police, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) conducted a two-year investigation looking into Minneapolis law enforcement policing practices. Their findings: both “the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) and the City of Minneapolis engage in a pattern or practice of conduct in violation of the U.S. Constitution and federal law.”
Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said, “George Floyd’s death had an irrevocable impact on his family, on the Minneapolis community, on our country, and on the world…The patterns and practices of conduct the Justice Department observed during our investigation are deeply disturbing. They erode the community’s trust in law enforcement. And they made what happened to George Floyd possible.”
After the findings were released, ESSENCE sat down with George Floyd’s uncle Selwyn Jones to discuss the investigation, his nonprofit, and what he’s doing to ensure that his nephew’s death was not in vain.
When asked about the DOJ’s conclusions, Jones said, “I was not surprised,” continuing “I am astonished that the world still has these problems, but I’m not surprised because of how we’ve been treated for all these years. [People] probably should have been fired 15 years ago have been able to use the good ol’ boy system to keep them employed, and keep harming people. That’s definitely not only a knock on the Minneapolis Police Department, but a lot of other police departments as well.”
Since his nephew’s death, Jones has traveled around the country speaking out against police violence. “I’m here is because somebody got murdered. And the reason why I’m going to continuously be here is because people are continuing to be murdered and put in racist situations because of the color of one’s skin,” said Jones.
Jones has also partnered up with Arkansas councilwoman Liz Darden to found Hope929, an organization, focused on “empowering others by promoting inclusive and equitable communities” that is working “to create equity for historically marginalized groups while giving communities the tools to grow stronger and more self-sufficient.”
Jones isn’t sure if “there will ever be enough change in policing,” yet there is legislation being introduced for the protection of police dogs.
Jones is correct– just two months ago, Pennsylvania State Rep. Scott Conklin introduced a bill to protect K-9 officers, stating, “These loyal dogs risk their lives to protect and serve, and we must do our part to ensure their safety.”
“We are protecting animals over human beings. Something’s wrong with the system,” said Jones who is ardently advocating for states to pass the Medical Civil Rights Act, which would require police “to call for emergency medical care when in contact with a person who requests care or is experiencing an emergency medical condition.” Jones told Spectrum News, “We just want change. This bill would have had Tyre Nichols, George Floyd, and Eric Garner home for Christmas. If you are in contact with police in any situation, you have a right to receive medical attention.”
Ultimately, Jones says he is pushing for education, communication, conversation, and motivation, stating “I’m using the platform that my nephew’s death gave me to make a difference.”