Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, who has made addressing systemic racism the cornerstone of his mission since taking office in December, issued a statement Monday in response to allegations of LAPD officers circulating a mock valentine with a George Floyd image reading, ‘You Take My Breath Away.’
Celebrating the murder of a Black man at the hands of police demonstrates a profound absence of humanity. 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 callous nature of what’s alleged here is exceedingly disturbing, and it speaks volumes to law enforcement’s inability to recognize how harmful the use of unlawful force is to public attitudes about police. Decades of research have shown that lower levels of trust in police significantly decrease the likelihood that people will report crimes or cooperate with law enforcement. Actions like these ultimately have ramifications for community and officer safety alike.
Police, like the rest of America, must fess up to and tackle systemic racism head on… If these allegations are found true, the individuals involved have no place in law enforcement.”
Gascón said the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office would look into the matter to determine if the integrity of any criminal cases may have been compromised by biased police work.
Reports of the George Floyd image, and the subsequent complaint within the Los Angeles Police Department, first surfaced Friday, Feb. 12, two day’s before Valentine’s Day.
Screen grabs of the image allegedly referred to in the internal LAPD complaint, and posted on Twitter and elsewhere, shows a picture of Floyd on a pink background surrounded by hearts with the words “You take my breath away” and Valentine-style spaces to designate who it is being sent “to” and “from.”
LAPD officials said they launched an internal investigation after an officer complained about the image and alleged it was being circulated within the department. Department officials said they have not yet determined whether the post was circulated by any members of the LAPD.
Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore told the Los Angeles Times he was determined find out what happened and who, if anyone, from the department was involved.
“Our investigation is to determine the accuracy of the allegations while also reinforcing our zero tolerance for anything with racist views,” Moore said Saturday. “If the department confirms that officers were circulating the image, people will find my wrath.”
George Floyd died May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer handcuffed him, pinned him to the ground and then knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes as he repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe.”
That officer, Derek Chauvin, is awaiting trial on a second-degree murder charge.