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Val Demings to brothers and sisters in blue: ‘What in the hell?’

‘This can’t go on,’ Demings declares after George Floyd slaying.

“What in the hell are you doing?”

Rep. Val Demings, a retired Orlando Police Chief, wrote that in a searing op-ed piece Friday for The Washington Post, where she decried the Minneapolis Police slaying of George Floyd and underlying problems allowing it.

“As a former woman in blue, let me begin with my brothers and sisters in blue: What in the hell are you doing?” Demings wrote. The Central Florida Democrat had spent 26 years in an Orlando police uniform, including a stint in the Department’s internal investigations unit.

In her column Friday, Demings called for the officers involved in the Floyd incident to be held accountable in the criminal justice system, for police everywhere to be proactive, review standards and practices, and think about what they are doing.

“We all know that the level of force must meet the level of resistance. We all can see that there was absolutely zero resistance from George Floyd. He posed no threat to anyone, especially law enforcement,” Demings wrote.

“Why do bad things happen? Bad mind, bad heart, or bad policy? The painful cries of Eric Garner (killed in a similar incident in New York in 2014) will be with us forever. Now, George Floyd’s pleas for help will, too. I cannot begin to understand how any officer could ignore the painful pleas we heard from Floyd — or from anyone suffering,” she continued.

Demings is not just a voice in the wilderness, a local congresswoman expressing her opinions.

Besides the street cred she carries from her police career (and also her marriage to another former Orlando Police Chief, Jerry Demings), Demings also is potentially in line to run for Vice President of the United States.

Her name has repeatedly been mentioned as among top prospects being reviewed and vetted by presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Much of the time, lately, when Demings speaks, it’s focused on a national audience.

“My heart goes out to the families of those who have lost loved ones. But we must also offer justice through full and swift accountability — not just for their loved one, but for the future,” Demings wrote.

“Everyone wants to live in safer communities and to support law enforcement and the tough job they do every day. But this can’t go on. The senseless deaths of America’s sons and daughters — particularly African American men — is a stain on our country. Let’s work to remove it,” she wrote toward her conclusion.

“We have got to get this one right. Our communities, good police officers, and generations yet to come, deserve it,” Demings concluded.

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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