Local police speak out on protests

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A police officer has been charged with murder for George Floyd’s death Wednesday afternoon and three other officers present at the time are also charged.

Wednesday, several top law enforcement officials spoke out about the protests and the violence that has erupted in many of these protests.

The top federal prosecutor in this part of Pennsylvania was in Wilkes-Barre to announce the smashing of an alleged drug-selling operation. But first he had a message to protestors.

Federal and local law enforcement stand together Wednesday to talk about federal indictments of 11 people involved in an alleged three-county drug trafficking operation.

But the first item on the agenda for David Freed, the United States attorney for the middle district of Pennsylvania? The reaction to the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.

“We’re all standing here today in support of law-abiding citizens. Today that includes first and foremost our fellow citizens that are understandably moved affected and angered by the recent murder of unarmed black men in Georgia and Minnesota,” Freed said.

But Freed also pointed out that there is a rule of law that law enforcement are sworn to enforce.

“We will protect you just as we would protect your fellow citizens and their property. But committing violent destructive acts is far different from expressing anger fear and disappointment and outrage. When such expressions evolve into dangerous behavior we will act. We will not abdicate our sworn duty,” Freed said.

The police chiefs of our region’s two largest cities they too support a person’s right to protest, but not to commit violent acts. They insist that local police departments are committed to treating all people in a fair and just manner.

“Law enforcement is disturbed about what happened in Minnesota and I have talked to law enforcement officers who are angry about what happened in Minneapolis with police officers,” Scranton Police Chief Carl Graziano said.

“I want them to know we stand with them together. We have the same message. We want people to follow the law including us and we want to protect our community,” Wilkes-Barre Police Department Chief Joe Coffay said.

Other law enforcement officials who were there tell Eyewitness News that there has not been what they describe as a serious national conversation about relations between the police and members of minority communities.

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