Trailblazing politician Andrea Jenkins has paid tribute to George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after being assaulted by police earlier this week.
Jenkins, who made history when she became the first black trans woman elected to public office in the U.S., took the podium at a press conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, addressing Floyd’s death. The 46-year-old died earlier this week after white police officers kneeled on the back of his neck for more than seven minutes while he was handcuffed for allegedly presenting a counterfeit bill.
Floyd repeatedly told officers, “I can’t breathe.”
Video footage of the horrifying incident was circulated on social media, and four Minneapolis police officers were fired as a result. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has also called for charges to be brought against the white officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck.
Floyd’s untimely death has prompted rallies against police brutality across the state—including Minneapolis, where Jenkins serves as vice president of the city council.
BREAKING: In stirring moment, Minneapolis Council Vice Pres. Andrea Jenkins sings "Amazing Grace" at press conference on death of George Floyd.
— ABC News (@ABC) May 28, 2020
Jenkins began her statement by singing a rousing verse from “Amazing Grace.” She then extended her condolences to Floyd’s loved ones and offered a heartbreaking explanation of how racism feels as a black American:
We feel as if there was a knee on all of our collective necks—a knee that says black life does not matter. To the institutions that dictate what happens in this culture and society…I am a part of this system to help, to take that weight off of our necks. That is the work that I need to be doing.
“I really don’t have many words,” she added, “but I know that something’s gotta change.”
Watch Jenkins’ rousing speech in full below.
“Until we name this virus, this disease, that has infected America for the past 400 years, we will never ever resolve this issue," Minneapolis Council Vice Pres. Andrea Jenkins says in a presser following George Floyd's death https://t.co/pfaXJqT62m pic.twitter.com/6ab9GDg6hM
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 28, 2020