BOSTON (SHNS) – Gov. Charlie Baker said he was “outraged” by video of a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on the neck of an unarmed black man who died after being restrained, an incident that has sparked nationwide protests.
“I don’t know how anyone could watch that video and not be just outraged by it,” Baker told reporters when asked about the topic Friday. “I know I was and I say that as somebody who knows a lot of folks in law enforcement, and I believe in the important and critical role that law enforcement plays in keeping people safe.”
The Republican governor pointed to recent law enforcement award recipients in Massachusetts who were honored for cases in which they “de-escalate(d) the situation so that nobody got hurt.” Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis officer allegedly depicted in the video, was fired along with three other officers who were on the scene in the Monday arrest of George Floyd.
On Friday, prosecutors charged Chauvin with third-degree murder and manslaughter, according to news reports. Floyd’s death in police custody renewed debates about police violence and racial inequity and prompted several nights of protests in Minneapolis and other cities across the country.
Activists planned a Friday afternoon demonstration in Boston.
Baker said he had conversations with local Massachusetts leaders and his administration to make clear that “if people choose to protest, we need to make sure they have the ability to do that.” “We hope people protest peacefully, but honestly it’s — a moment like that, an event like that, I can’t imagine why people wouldn’t want to get out in the streets and make a point about it,” Baker said.