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George Floyd’s queer neighbours ‘want justice’ after his death, says trailblazing Black trans Minneapolis official

Nick Duffy June 1, 2020
Phillipe Cunningham, a Black transgender man who sits on Minneapolis city council

Phillipe Cunningham, a Black transgender man who sits on Minneapolis city council (Photo: Flickr user Tony Webster/CC BY-SA 2.0)

Phillipe Cunningham, a Black transgender man who sits on Minneapolis city council, has said that the local LGBT+ community wants justice for George Floyd.

The city has been the epicentre of protests across the US over the killing of George Floyd, who died after being forcefully restrained by a police officer in the city on May 25.

Now ex-police officer Derek Chauvin is facing a charge of third-degree murder over the death, while three more officers remain under investigation. A separate federal probe is also underway.

In an interview with Windy City Times, Cunningham — one of the only out trans men elected to public office anywhere in the United States — called for justice for Floyd.

Phillipe Cunningham ‘angry as a Black man in America’.

He said: “I’m Black and trans-masculine, and I navigate the world being seen as a Black man and am treated as such. When I saw the video, a ton of trauma came up and I was so angry.

“I was angry as a Black man in America, and I was angry as a city councilmember; I have put in hours and hours and hours of work trying to make the smallest change within the institution of policing in this city.

“When I saw that — knowing that efforts have been pretty futile — seeing the video absolutely enraged me. But it also confirmed that we need an alternate form of public safety outside of policing.”

A memorial left for George Floyd  who died in custody on May 26, 2020 is viewed in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
A memorial left for George Floyd  who died in custody on May 26, 2020 is viewed in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images)

Of the response from the local LGBT+ community, Cunningham added: “Trans and queer business owners are concerned about their spaces, but they’re also concerned about getting justice and others’ safety.

“We have a very large queer and trans community here, so they’re, like, ‘That’s our people out there.’ So that’s what I’m hearing: People concerned about their own businesses but also about safety and justice.”

The official said that as a “bare minimum”, the three other officers involved in Floyd’s killing “should also be arrested and charged and convicted.”

He added: “As elected officials, we are calling for the governor to take authority over the case, and that attorney general have prosecutorial authority. These officers should be held accountable.”

White supremacists are ‘taking advantage’ of George Floyd protests, Minneapolis official warns.

Cunningham also warned that the protests has led to some groups “taking advantage” of Black people for their own ends.

He said: “What started off as riots being the language of the unheard turned into white supremacists and some anarchists taking advantage of some Black grief and trauma to wreak havoc, destruction and violence.

“I’m not saying that oppressed folks aren’t participating; however, it has been seen that the folks initiating the destruction and fires are actually white. There’s suspicion that they’re anarchists or white supremacists.”

More: George Floyd, Minneapolis, phillipe cunningham

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