OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – There is outrage across the nation after a black man was killed in police custody in Minneapolis earlier this week.
Bystander video shows George Floyd pleading for help as officers held him down for at least eight minutes. He was later pronounced dead.
The four officers involved were fired, but many including a friend of Floyd’s here in Oklahoma, are demanding justice.
“We watched as a white officer pressed his knee into the neck of a black man,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said.
Oklahoma City resident Jonathan Veal grew up in Houston with Floyd. They first met in school in the sixth grade.
“He is what we called a gentle giant. He had a smile that matched his physique and height,” Jonathan Veal said.
At 6’6,” Floyd was a star athlete playing football alongside Veal throughout high school.
“In that community, he was known as ‘Big Floyd’ because he just had this contagious personality so I want that to be remembered about my friend more than anything,” Veal said.
Veal says he texted with Floyd just a few months ago.
Floyd told him he was about to start a Christian program. He also said, “My faith is getting back to where it is supposed to be.”
It’s a reassuring text message now masked by this disturbing video. It’s hard to watch for everyone especially to those who knew him.
“I knew George really, really well and for no one in law enforcement to show any level of compassion,” Veal said.
Veal wants more accountability from law enforcement.
“George is not an isolated incident. It continues to happen, but then if we could have a heightened level of value on the human life,” Veal said.
Clarence Hill is a pastor and started a mission to bring local media outlets together to promote a healthy dialogue on race.
He doesn’t want it to take a tragedy like this to make change.
“Not just showing up with flash point situations like these, but it’s the work in between that we could be doing together to minimize these situations,” said Hill, pastor and founder of Stronger Together.
“My desire in this moment and this incident wouldn’t be the whole profile people see and remember of my friend George. It’s just a small snippet of an entire life,” Veal said.
George Floyd’s family told the Today Show they want charges filed against the officers involved.
United Voice mission statement: A coalition of Oklahoma’s media outlets, brought together in a united voice to promote a healthy dialogue on race.