The family of George Floyd has responded to reports that officers with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) mocked the unarmed Black man‘s infamous police killing by making a crude joke about it ahead of Valentine’s Day.
Floyd was killed on Memorial Day after a Minneapolis police officer applied deadly pressure with his knee on the handcuffed man’s neck for nearly nine minutes. He repeated “I cannot breathe” multiple times as now-fired cop Derek Chauvin pushed his face into the pavement.
In response nearly nine months later, LAPD staffers began sharing an image of George with the message, “You take my breath away.” The image was reportedly in a “valentine format” ahead of the annual holiday of love.
George’s family is outraged, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“This is beyond insult on top of injury — it’s injury on top of death,” Ben Crump said in a statement on Monday. “The type of callousness and cruelty within a person’s soul needed to do something like this evades comprehension — and is indicative of a much larger problem within the culture of the LAPD.”
The local district attorney expressed a similar sentiment and vowed there would be accountability for the tasteless joke mocking a police death that has resulted in a murder trial set to begin next month.
“Celebrating the murder of a Black man at the hands of police demonstrates a profound absence of humanity,” Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said. “The mock Valentine underscores the highly problematic and, frankly, racist perceptions that pervade the law enforcement culture regarding the communities we are sworn to protect and serve.”
The chief of police said anyone found to have liked or shared that image will be facing punishment, though it was not immediately unclear whether that included firings.
The insensitive actions by people who took an oath to protect and serve came amid a nationwide effort to defund police departments and reallocate financial resources to reimagine and law enforcement and its priorities.
The LAPD has been in the news in recent months for all the wrong reasons.
Just last month, a group of anti-masker demonstrators stormed a Los Angeles area grocery store and nearby mall on Sunday with little interference from LAPD officers who stood by as the protesters harassed several shoppers. Social media users pointed out the ways in which law enforcement exercised restraint in using excessive force tactics for these types of displays, in comparison to the aggression typically used towards Black civilians and Black Lives Matter protesters.
And just one month after Floyd’s killing, a Los Angeles police officer and leader of the department’s union told the Washington Post that “the morale is low” at the LAPD because of what he described as mistreatment from an ungrateful public.
“I’ve had members say they feel like a Vietnam veteran returning home to a country that hates them,” Robert Harris said in June. “It’s not that our members expect thank-yous. It’s the difficulty in knowing that the protesters want to be treated with equality and fairness and respect, and what they’re protesting for isn’t afforded to the officers themselves.” He went on to use the most ironic choice of words when he said that his fellow officers have “taken quite a beating.”
Nevermind the very racist, brutal and corrupt history the LAPD has with policing Black communities, including and especially the infamous beating of motorist Rodney King in 1991 that set off a series of riots in the area.
The Los Angeles Times reported at the time that the LAPD was investigating more than 50 instances of police misconduct reported from protests over Floyd’s death and against police racism and violence.
All of which makes the reported Valentine’s Day report in the LAPD even more disrespectful.