Gov. Newsom shares emotional story of explaining George Floyd's death to his children

ByAlix Martichoux KGO logo
Friday, May 29, 2020
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The governor said he was struggling to explain the tragedy to his children, who saw the viral video of Floyd's death on social media.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Gov. Gavin Newsom's daily update on COVID-19 struck a very different tone Friday.

He opened his remarks by addressing the death of George Floyd. Floyd died in police custody in Minnesota this week, sparking national outcry and protests, including in Southern California.

Newsom said he was struggling to explain the tragedy to his children, who saw the viral video of Floyd's death on social media.

"My kids grabbed me before I got out of the car coming home," he said. "They were in their pajamas, my 10-year-old with my wife's cellphone in hand. Somehow she had gotten on TikTok, and she was teared up. She wanted to talk to me about this incident ... and my daughter wanted to make sure I saw it."

He went on to say, "And she was trying to reflect, 10 years old, on what it meant. And here she was tearing up because she knew it was wrong. My son, 8 years old, said, 'It's not just wrong, dad. It's worse than wrong. Because bad people are supposed to be bad, but good people are supposed to be good.'"

Choking back tears, Newsom said while he was struggling to make sense of Floyd's death, and help his children make sense of the violence they saw at the hands of a police officer, it was not lost on him the "privilege of that conversation."

Newsom also acknowledged racism's impact on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. He noted that while black Californians make up about 5% of known COVID-19 cases, they represent just over 10% of deaths - a disproportionately high number.

"It's an incredibly important point about the structural challenges that we have as a state ... to address the issues that we brought into this crisis," he said.

The last time Newsom held a press briefing was Tuesday, when he announced the state was moving into Phase 3 of reopening. In most parts of the state, hair salons, barbershops, in-store retail shopping and dine-in restaurants can reopen with modifications.

Newsom said new rules for the reopening summer camps and childcare facilities would be coming soon. The governor also said sporting events, without live audiences, would be able to resume as early as the first week of June. However, the state hasn't yet offered guidance or exact timing.

In an appearance on ABC's "The View" Friday, Newsom said his "worst fear" is that the public will forget the reality of the coronavirus outbreak.

When will gyms reopen in California? Newsom says guidelines on fitness centers are coming in a 'week or so'

"My biggest fear is amnesia," the governor said. "My biggest fear is that we forget the reality of the last 8, 9, 10 weeks in the state and in this nation ... and put ourselves at real risk of not just a second wave but recognizing that we're not even out of the first wave of this pandemic."

Newsom also responded to President Donald Trump's criticism of the state's plan to send mail-in ballots to all registered voters ahead of the November election.

"We believe that we should not substitute people's public health and safety as it relates to their right to exercise their constitutional right to exercise a vote," Newsom said. "We believe you can do that in a thoughtful, safe manner by providing more opportunity through vote by mail."