George Floyd’s family is considering suing Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, for making false claims about Floyd’s death, a prominent civil rights lawyer has said.
During a recent appearance on the hip-hop podcast Drink championsthe rapper and fashion designer has questioned the cause of Floyd’s death, suggesting it was due to fentanyl use and not by Derek Chauvinthe former Minneapolis police officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9½ minutes and was convicted of murder.
Chauvin’s knee “wasn’t even on his neck like that,” Ye said. The interview had been viewed nearly 2 million times on Youtube from Monday afternoon.
Ye said his claims were backed up by a documentary by conservative commentator Candace Owens.
His remarks were widely condemned, including by civil rights lawyer Lee Merritt, who tweeted Sunday: “While the dead cannot be defamed, #GeorgeFloyd’s family is considering filing a lawsuit over Kanye’s misrepresentation of the manner of his death. Claiming that Floyd died of fentanyl and not criminally established brutality and civilly undermines and diminishes the Floyd family’s fight.”
Merritt said Monday that he was contacted by Floyd’s brother, Philonise, on Sunday to ask if legal action could be taken to stop Ye from repeating debunked claims about Floyd’s death. Merritt said he is also looking into whether Owens could also be sued on similar grounds.
Chauvinist was convicted in April 2021 of second and third degree murderas well as second-degree manslaughter, and was sentenced in June 2021 to 22 and a half years in prison. He pleaded guilty last year to a federal charge to violate Floyd’s civil rights by using excessive force under the cover of the law and was sentenced to just over 20 years in July. His federal and state sentences must be served concurrently.
The medical examiner who ruled Floyd’s death a homicide testified at Chauvin’s state trial that Floyd’s heart disease and drug use contributed to his death, but that the restraint of his body by the police and the compression of his neck were the main causes. Other prosecution expert witnesses were explicit in their assessments that Floyd died of asphyxiation or lack of oxygen.
During his sentencing in the federal civil rights case, Judge Paul Magnuson of the U.S. District Court in St. Paul told Chauvin, who was the most senior of the four officers at the scene, “I really don’t know why. you did what you did. . But putting your knee on another person’s neck until they expire is simply wrong, and for this conduct you must be severely punished.”
Three other former police officers have also been charged in connection with Floyd’s death: Thomas Lane, who held down his legs as he cried out that he couldn’t breathe; J. Alexander Kueng, who helped restrain Floyd; and Tou Thao, who kept worried passers-by at bay.
Officers met Floyd on May 25, 2020, outside a convenience store where he allegedly used a counterfeit $20 bill to purchase cigarettes. Video of Floyd’s final moments taken by passers-by sparked protests around the world against police brutality and systemic racism.
way pleaded guilty last month charged with second degree manslaughter in Floyd’s murder and was sentenced to three years in prison. Kueng and Thao, who rejected a plea deal, are expected to go to trial this month.
The three men were found guilty in federal court of depriving Floyd of his civil rights while acting under government authority when they failed to provide him with medical aid. Kueng and Thao were also convicted for not intervening. In July, Kueng was sentenced in federal court to three years and Thao to three and a half years. years.
Ye, who has courted controversy in recent weeks, was blocked from posting to Twitter and Instagram about a week ago due to anti-Semitic posts that social media said violated their policies. In a tweet, Ye said he would soon go “death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE,” according to internet records, making an apparent reference to the US Defense Readiness Condition Scale known as DEFCON. This month, Ye, who has previously suggested slavery was a choice, was criticized for wearing a ‘White Lives Matter’ t-shirt, alongside Owens, in her collection at Paris Fashion Week. . The Anti-Defamation League called the phrase hate speech.
Many criticized Drink Champs and his hosts, rapper NORE and DJ EFN, on social media for giving a platform to Ye’s racist talking points that denied the brutality Floyd was subjected to and the excessive force he was subjected to. blacks suffer during certain encounters with the police.
During a Monday phone interview with The Breakfast Club, a nationally broadcast radio show, NORE apologized to Floyd’s family and said Drink Champs would edit future broadcasts.
“I just want to be honest. I support free speech. I support anyone, you know, who isn’t censored,” he said. “But I can’t stand anyone getting hurt. I didn’t realize George Floyd’s statements on my show were so hurtful. And you have to realize that was the first five minutes of the show. Like when he came in, he said my producer, he said if he stopped filming he would leave.”
NORE also said he “checked out” Ye on his comments about Floyd and White Lives Matter, but said it was so late in the episode and “I was already drunk by that point- where maybe people looked at it.”
“I apologize to the George Floyd family,” he said. “I apologize to anyone who was hurt by Kanye West’s comments.”
Early Monday, it was announced that Ye had agreed in principle to acquire conservative-leaning social media app Parler. Parliament Technologies, Parler’s parent company, announced “it has reached an agreement in principle to sell Parler” to Ye, which has “taken a bold stance against its recent censorship of Big Tech.”
“In a world where conservative views are considered controversial, we must ensure that we have the right to express ourselves freely,” Ye said in a statement.
George Farmer, the chief executive of Parliament, who is married to Owens, said in a statement on Monday that “Ye’s acquisition of Parler will strengthen our ability to create an irreversible ecosystem.”