INGHAM COUNTY - Meridian Township and Ingham County have released statements condemning the death of George Floyd on May 25.
Floyd died when Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd's neck for a little over eight minutes. Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Three other officers were charged with aiding and abetting to murder.
Meridian Township Police Chief Ken Plaga expressed sympathy to the friends and family of Floyd and acknowledged while standing with citizens for changes, it requires more than that.
“Words are not enough, it requires action to comfort those affected by the events of May 25th. Our community strongly and wholly opposes oppression and racial bias,” Plaga said. “Our Mission Statement contains key values of our organization, “Understanding”, “Cooperation” and “Equality”. These are not just words but values we hold dear. We will continue to work for the betterment of our community, state and country.”
Plaga condemned the use of neck restraints within his department and said they have other ways to control people.
“We train our officers in techniques that do not place citizens at risk,” Plaga said. “This type of (neck) restraint is dangerous and excessive. It exposes citizens to undue risk and is archaic. The events in Minneapolis should have never occurred. We strive to ensure they will never happen here."
Plaga reinforced his commitment to making people feel safe in the community no matter who they are.
“Our entire Department embraces the community we serve. The reason we put on our uniform every day is to protect and serve. We want you to feel safe and secure. We have failed, if there is ever a time that our presence makes you feel frightened,” Plaga said. “We not only serve this community, we are a part of this community. Regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or personal views, we want you to know we are here for you. We promise we will treat you with dignity and respect to ensure your value as a human being is honored.”
The Ingham County Health Department, along with Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon, went further and condemned any use of excessive force in the police department and officers who use it in an oppressive manner.
“We recognize that police brutality is one manifestation of racism, and we condemn any use of excessive force in policing,” the statement said. “We also condemn the systematic oppression, in any form, of people and communities of color. Systemic racism is woven into the fabric of our society, and the rage, frustration and heartbreak we have seen are a result.”
The health department said that solving the problem of racism will take more than protesting for change.
“Dismantling systemic racism will require vigilance, oversight, accountability, transparency and a willingness to take a hard look at some of the worst parts of ourselves and our systems.” ICHD said in a statement.
The county hopes to work with communities to address racism so one day it will be a thing of the past.
“We are committed to doing our part, personally and professionally, to combat the biases and systemic racism that exist here in our community. Only through aggressive and intentional antiracist action can we find solutions and heal. We stand in solidarity with neighbors and colleagues who are Black, and we are committed to working with them to cultivate equity, inclusion and justice.”
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