During his daily press briefing, Governor Tate Reeves spoke about the death of George Floyd and the ensuing protests occurring in Mississippi and across the country.
Floyd died while in police custody last Monday after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for over eight minutes. That officer, Derek Chauvin, has since been charged with third-degree murder and three others were fired.
“I have always been careful to avoid prejudging any investigation,” Reeves said. “The officers involved in the death of George Floyd will have their day in court, but like virtually everyone else who has looked at the case, I came away disgusted and dismayed. I pray that justice will be done, even though we know it will not bring Mr. Floyd back to his family.”
While many protests have taken place without incident, several have turned violent in major cities. The Governor stated that he will always protect Mississippians’ right to protest, but stressed the difference between a protest and a riot.
“You have a right to protest. It is among the most sacred rights in our country; your right to protest your government. It is what makes us who we are,” he said. “I applaud anyone who uses that right, and I will always defend your ability to do so. In the state of Mississippi, that is exactly what happened over the weekend.”
Protests occurred in several Mississippi cities over the weekend, including in Jackson outside of the Governor’s Mansion. These protests were peaceful while cities like Minneapolis, Atlanta, New York and others saw outbreaks of violence, businesses destroyed and damage done to public property.
“Our country has been uniquely united in condemning the killing of George Floyd, and there has been real opportunity for meaningful conversation around issues that too often divide us. The violent scenes in our major cities, unfortunately and tragically, are drowning that out.”
He continued, “I pray this is true, but I do not believe there will be riots here. I know that the people of Mississippi do not want to burn down our own communities. Those people protesting want a voice, not violence. We will never suppress speech and protests in Mississippi as long as I am Governor.”
Governor Reeves went on to say that Mississippi will not tolerate violence.
“There is no place for the anarchists and there is no place for the antagonists here in Mississippi. Any efforts to do so will be overwhelmed. I am not threatening, I am promising that the full force of our state will be ready and willing to defend our communities,” Governor Reeves said.
The Governor and State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs also preached that protestors should practice social distancing and wear masks as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
Watch the Governor’s full press briefing below: