Protests erupted across the country this weekend to demand justice for George Floyd, who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes. As thousands of protesters flooded the streets, several celebrities have also participated and used their platforms to elevate and support them, including by contributing to bail funds to secure arrested demonstrators’ release. And Jay-Z apparently took things a step further, calling Minnesota Governor Tim Walz on Sunday.
“It was so incredibly human,” Walz told CBS Minnesota of the conversation. “It wasn’t Jay-Z international celebrity, it was a dad and quite honestly a black man with visceral pain that he knew.” He recalled the rapper telling him, “Justice needs to be served here. Justice needs to be served.”
After their conversation, Walz announced that Attorney General Keith Ellison would take the lead in prosecuting the case. Jay-Z thanked Walz and promised that his work toward justice for George Floyd is not finished yet.
“After our very earnest conversation, thank you to Governor Walz for doing what’s right and calling in Attorney General Keith Ellison to take over the George Floyd case,” Jay-Z wrote in a statement posted to Twitter.
“Earlier today, Governor Walz mentioned having a human conversation with me—a dad and a black man in pain,” Jay-Z continued. “Yes, I am human, a father and a black man in pain and I am not the only one. Now I, along with an entire country in pain, call upon AG Ellison to do the right thing and prosecute all those responsible for the murder of George Floyd to the fullest extent of the law.”
On Friday Derek Chauvin, the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck during the fatal arrest despite Floyd’s repeated pleas that he could not breathe, was charged Friday with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. In May another black Minneapolis resident recently told The Daily Beast that Chauvin “tried to kill me” while responding to a domestic violence call in 2008. (The Minneapolis Police Department did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment at the time.) The other three officers involved in Floyd’s arrest have been fired, but not charged.
“This is just a first step,” Jay-Z wrote as he concluded his statement. “I am more determined to fight for justice than any fight my would-be oppressors may have. I prevail on every politician, prosecutor, and officer in the country to have the courage to do what is right. Have the courage to look at us as humans, dads, brothers, and sisters and mothers in pain and look at yourselves.”