MINNEAPOLIS -- The murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, and the fervent protests that broke out around the world, looked to many observers like the catalyst needed for a nationwide reckoning on racism in policing.
For more than nine minutes, a white officer pressed his knee to the neck of Floyd, a Black man, who gasped, "I can't breathe," echoing Eric Garner's last words in 2014. Video footage of Floyd's May 25, 2020, murder was so agonizing to watch that demands for change came from across the country.
But in the midst of the deadly coronavirus pandemic, economic uncertainty and a divisive U.S. presidential election, 2020 ended without the kind of major police changes that many hoped, and others feared, would come. Then, 2021 and 2022 also failed to yield much progress.
Now, three years since Floyd's murder, proponents of federal actions -- such as banning chokeholds and changing the so-called qualified immunity protections for law enforcement -- still await meaningful signs of change. The beating death of Tyre Nichols at the hands of Memphis police officers in early January underscored just how long it could take.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, of Massachusetts, said during a recent news conference convened by a Black Lives Matter collective that she sees no evidence of a "racial reckoning."
"I don't play with words like 'reckoning,'" Pressley said. "That needs to be something of epic proportion. And we certainly have not seen a response to the lynching, the choking, the brutality [and] the murder of Black lives."
Soon after Floyd's murder, Minneapolis adopted a number of changes, including bans on chokeholds and neck restraints, and requirements that police try to stop fellow officers from using improper force. Minnesota lawmakers approved statewide police accountability packages in 2020 and in 2021, as well as tight restrictions on no-knock warrants this month.
The city is still awaiting the results of a federal investigation into whether its police engaged in a "pattern or practice" of unconstitutional or unlawful policing. A similar investigation by the state Department of Human Rights led to what it called a "court-enforceable settlement agreement" in March to revamp policing in the city.
More than 100 people gathered Thursday night at George Floyd Square, the corner where Floyd died. The event to remember Floyd included music and dancing, and a candlelight vigil was planned. Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O'Hara stopped by and talked with people in the crowd -- at one point, raising his fist in solidarity.
"We are shifting the culture of our police department -- to ensure that our officers strengthen and hold the trust of our entire community," Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said in a statement Thursday.
There were immediate cries after Floyd's murder to defund the police -- and instead fund public housing and other services. But a ballot measure that had roots in that movement failed, even in some heavily Black neighborhoods.
An AP review of police funding found that some municipalities elsewhere made modest cuts that fell far short of activists' calls.
Minneapolis activists had planned a candlelight vigil Thursday night at George Floyd Square, the corner where Floyd died. A festival at the square Saturday will celebrate change in Minneapolis.
Gov. Tim Walz declared Thursday "George Floyd Remembrance Day" in Minnesota, proclaiming, "True justice for George Floyd will come only through real, systemic change to prevent acts like this from happening again."
Derek Chauvin, the white officer who killed Floyd, and the three other officers who failed to stop him, are all in prison. Chauvin was sentenced in state court to 22½ years for second-degree murder. Two of the three other officers pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting manslaughter and received shorter terms, while the third was convicted of that count by a judge and awaits sentencing.