Los Angeles Police Chief Michael Moore is coming under fire after saying on Monday that George Floyd’s death is on the hands of looters just as much as the officers who held him down as he pleaded that he could not breathe.
The statement came during a press conference on Monday, with Los Angeles officials providing an update amid protests and growing unrest across the country. In what The Hollywood Reporter noted was an otherwise routine update, Moore made a controversial statement saying that those causing destruction and looting during protests were responsible for Floyd’s death.
“His death is on their hands, as much as it is on those officers,” he said.
The statement appeared to make an immediate impact at the press conference. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti later stopped a Q&A session with reporters to allow Moore to clarify his comments.
“I misspoke when I said his blood was on their hands, but certainly their actions do not serve the enormity of his loss,” he said. “What his name should stand for is the catalyst for change. I regret the remarks of that characterization, but I don’t regret, nor will I apologize to those out there creating destruction. His memory deserves better.”
Garcetti also further walked back the statement in a post on Twitter, but that did little to stem the controversy.
Many called for the police chief to be fired, noting that attempts by the city and Moore to walk back the statement seemed to ring hollow given that he acknowledged during the press conference that it was a strong statement but saying he felt compelled to say it.
He regrets those words!! Are you kidding me!!? FIRE HIM! He knew exactly what he was saying. https://t.co/wIrTVsaMSJ
— Mike Richman (@MikeUSMCRichman) June 2, 2020
Moore’s statement came after days of escalating protests across Los Angeles County, with a number of instances of looting and property destruction. As the Los Angeles Times reported, more than 1,200 people were arrested during protests that turned violent across the county.
As protests have escalated across the country, the actions of many police officers have come under scrutiny. Critics have accused many police departments of using heavy-handed tactics to quell unrest, reportedly attacking nonviolent protesters and even taking aim at clearly identified journalists.
Amid the growing tensions, a number of protester leaders and local officials across the country have called for calm. Earlier on Monday, the younger brother of George Floyd, Terrence, called for an end to the violence and asked people to channel their energy into creating more positive changes.