Meet Phillipe Cunningham: one of the few out-transgender people to sit on an American city council. Cunningham serves the city of Minneapolis, site of the George Floyd killing, and has declared LGBTQ support for justice in the case.
In an interview with the Windy City Times, Cunningham detailed his reaction to Floyd’s death, and why queer people join in the call for justice.
“I’m Black and trans-masculine, and I navigate the world being seen as a Black man and am treated as such,” Cunningham said in his interview. “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.”
Regarding the queer community in Minneapolis, Cunningham struck a note of solidarity. “Trans and queer business owners are concerned about their spaces,” he acknowledged, “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.”
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Cunningham went on to call for the three officers involved in Floyd’s murder to “be arrested and charged and convicted” for their actions. 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.”
Finally, Mr. Cunningham struck a note of hope that despite the current social unrest in regards to Floyd’s killing, the incident could become a turning point for the nation.
“For those who have lost hope, I would say, ‘I don’t blame you,'” Cunningham concedes. “When we look across the country and see all the efforts and initiatives that have taken place over the last decade or so—including President Obama’s 21st-century policing—there’s no evidence that any of them worked, in terms of changing police behavior or culture. That is why we need folks to get behind alternate systems of public safety. When folks are in distress and are in need (overdoses, mental-health crises), we should have more appropriate systems in place that don’t escalate violence or perpetuate a cycle of criminalization.”
At the time of this writing, only one officer in the George Floyd case, Derek Chauvin, faces any charges. Police arrested Chauvin last week, charging him with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter–the first-ever police officer charged with the death of a black civilian in the history of Minnesota. State officials have also said they anticipate further charges for other officers involved in the death of Mr. Floyd.
Good for him.
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Forgive my ignorance, especially if I am wrong but the last time I checked, or better yet let me ask this: isn’t Minneapolis in the state of Minnesota? The last I heard George Floyd was killed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Now I know it has been QUITE a few years since this old queen (me) has been in school but I can almost swear those two cities have next exchanged locations. Or maybe I’ve misinterpreted the article (even though I doubt that I won’t rule it out for arguments sake). Lord have mercy.
Bob, you mentioned Minneapolis City Council Chair Andrea Jenkins in a different post I saw earlier, so you must known or have known that that cop murdered George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The murder did not happen in Milwaukee; other Black people have been killed by cops in Milwaukee, but not Floyd.
The reminds me that this Queerty article is kind of bizarre because of a glaring absence. Both Jenkins and Cunningham are trans and sit on Minneapolis’s City Council. Jenkins, the first Black openly transwoman ever elected to public office in the US, actually chairs the Council. So why is she not even mentioned passingly in this article? Why has she not been mentioned or highlighted at all by Queerty (or perhaps I missed it) as these events have unfolded?
Thanks hon. The old queen (me) asked to be corrected and was. This is what happens when ones emotions take over but as YOU too saw Andrea’s omission is intentional. Could it be that Queerty asked for an interview and she said no? When she first got elected I asked why was it not mentioned on an article that had nothing to do with my question but I can’t for the life of me remember the article but I sure as hell did ask because I thought then something wasn’t right. Every major news outlet mentioned it but gay publications overall ignored it? Is it a racial thing that no one was suppose to catch? Now as her city burns once again she gets ignored despite the fact that she has risen thru the political ranks?
Ok, I step down off of my soapbox as it is now I who leaves with my head slightly bowed (or should I say my ass has been humbled) but I thank you again for backing up the obvious and doing what I asked (correcting me if I was wrong). Take care.
I am very proud and encouraged that we have queer folk in positions of authority working to make so many desperately needed changes in this very sick country of ours.
Well…both Minneapolis and Milwaukee usually appear on lists of “Worst cities for Black Americans.” It’s due to major income inequality and patterns of residential segregation. The vast majority of black people in greater Milwaukee live in the city…the suburbs are very, very white.
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