KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE)- The death of a black man after a Minneapolis Police officer held his knee on the man’s neck has sparked protests and riots all across the country.
The death of George Floyd has also led to many leaders across the country condemning the officer’s actions, including in East Tennessee.
Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon said Thursday she spoke with Knoxville Police Chief Eve Thomas about Floyd’s death, and talked about preventing a similar situation taking place in Knoxville.
After the National Fraternal Order of Police released a statement condemning the Minneapolis officer’s actions, 6 On Your Side reached out to Knoxville’s chapter for comment.
Keith Lyons, president of the Knoxville FOP, and a Knoxville Police officer himself, said that even though he doesn’t know exactly why the Minneapolis officer held Floyd down with his knee on Floyd’s neck, he could never imagine a scenario that required the officer for holding him in that position for so long.
“Standing on somebody’s neck is not good. I mean, a typical boxing match or MMA fight is only three minutes per round. And they give them a rest period of 30 seconds in between. So six minutes under that kind of stress isn’t healthy for anybody,” Lyons said.
He said that officers often learn what not to do based on other’s first-hand experiences.
Lyons said though that officers have been trained since at least the 90s in ways to not cut off a suspect’s airway.
“If we’ve had to get on top of somebody, we immediately turn them to their side so they can breathe,” Lyons said.
Lyons said that he hoped the community wouldn’t judge all law enforcement officers after the situation. He said that like most professions, most officers truly want to do good work and help the community.
Constance Every, a member of the local Black Lives Matters group and president of Black Coffee Justice, said Floyd’s death could’ve been avoided long before it happened.
She said that coworkers in any profession can tell when another employee has racial or sexist tendencies. She said those actions need to be properly handled by their superiors.
“You’re in those locker rooms and you hear those jokes that are unacceptable, or you hear those comments, or you even hear somebody flat out say, ‘I pulled this car over only because I knew it was this, that and there.’ Oh so you’re making assumptions now? When you hear this type of behavior going on, or this cultural practice going on in your police department, you as the good cop have a duty to address the bad cop,” Every said.
Every said that Black Lives Matters, as well as several local activist groups in Knoxville, plan to protest the treatment that lead to Floyd’s death and man other black people who recently died at the hands of law enforcement, as well as demand body cameras and for mental health professionals to be hired within the Knoxville Police Department.
Every said the protest will be peaceful, and doesn’t want someone to attend if they have negative intentions.
The protest will start at 6 p.m.
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