On May 25th, a life was lost at the hands of police officers. This action resulted in a ripple effect of protests, and a movement aimed to quench the world’s long-needed justice for people of color.
Although this action directly affected people in the black community, it has left its imprints on the souls of people of all expressions of identity. The death of George Floyd left the world in smithereens. It has left us with a void, but presented us an opportunity to redeem justice and preserve the human rights for the “known and unknown” George Floyds of the world.
On May 25th, Minneapolis police officers arrested George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, after being accused of buying cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. The complaint said Floyd "actively resisted being handcuffed", but then became compliant. Mahmoud Abumayyaleh, the owner of the shop where Floyd used the allegedly counterfeit bill, told CNN he reviewed his own surveillance footage and saw no resistance from Floyd when officers attempted to take him into custody.
Subsequently, after getting George Floyd into the police vehicle, Officer Derek Chauvin "pulled" Floyd "out of the passenger side of the squad car". Floyd "went to the ground face down, still handcuffed".Chauvin placed " his knee in the area of Mr. Floyd's head and neck". Officer Lane asked Officer Chauvin if they should roll him on his side so that they could attempt to save the unresponsive George Floyd. Chauvin however did not comply with this idea At this moment, any sense of humanity had dissipated, with remnants of animosity fueling their actions. Derek Chauvin had his knee on Mr. Floyd's neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in total, which included 2 minutes and 53 seconds continuing after his non-responsive behavior. The “knee-to-neck move'' is banned by several major metropolitan police departments, unfortunately, Minneapolis police are permitted to restrain suspects' necks if they're aggressive or resisting arrest. According to CNN Floyd was unarmed and handcuffed when he was pinned to the ground, resulting in George Floyd being another victim of unnecessary police brutality.
An independent report found that Floyd died from "asphyxiation from sustained pressure". This resulted from Chauvin's knee and body weight being placed on Floyd's neck, with other officers kneeling on his back. They not only took his life but stripped him of his fundamental human rights in the process ( a few listed below):
Article 3; We all have the right to live and to live life in freedom and safety
Article 10; Everyone accused of a crime has the right to a fair and public trial
Article 11; Everyone accused of a crime has the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty
This event is just one chapter of a larger story. The story’s origin lies in the 17th and 18th centuries, and it continues to surface into today's world. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, people were kidnapped from the continent of Africa, forced into slavery in the American colonies, and exploited to work as indentured servants and labor in the production of crops such as tobacco and cotton. The Thirteenth Amendment in 1865 later ended slavery but did not cease the inequality that they were conceded to. The end of slavery was meant to redeem “a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal,” However, racism continues to persist, as the color of people’s skin takes precedence in the eyes of the world. A person’s skin has defined how they are treated, their education, their work, and in some cases how they die. Black Americans are said to be more likely than white Americans to be arrested. Once arrested, they are more likely to be convicted and experience lengthy prison sentences
From Rodney King to Oscar Grant, and Philando Castile to Eric Garner, people’s skin color has taken precedence over what’s in their heart. It has defined them since they were born and has resulted in their decease. It has stripped them of their rights and destroyed their families.
Its ripple effect has blanketed the black community with an overwhelming fear of something similar happening to them. It’s an everlasting presence in their lives because discrimination and injustice have become a constant attribute in this world.
Currently, a wave of videos has been portrayed in the media, highlighting the looting, and setting of fire amid the George Floyd protest. To address this, President, Barack Obama said “ To bring about real change, we both have to highlight a problem and make people in power uncomfortable, but we also have to translate that into practical solutions and laws that can be implemented”.Peaceful Protesters have managed to do as such. Since their protests, the following positive movements have occurred:
1. Buffalo police suspended two officers Thursday night after a viral video spread showing police pushing over an elderly protester who fell, striking his head on the sidewalk.
2. A judge set bail at $750,000 apiece with conditions, or $1 million without, for the three former police officers charged with aiding Floyd’s killing.
3. At Floyd’s memorial, the Rev. Al Sharpton called Floyd’s death emblematic of the oppression black Americans have faced since the nation’s founding, saying, “It’s time for us to stand up in George’s name and say, ’Get your knee off our necks.’”
5. Minneapolis officials announced an agreement to immediately ban the use of chokeholds and strangleholds on Friday, in “ a move meant to bolster accountability within a police department that uses force against African-Americans far more often than against white residents”.
The image of destructive protesters can not be the only one acknowledged. The lives lost in the hands of police must be prioritized over the money lost in the destruction of buildings. The peaceful protesters urging for equality and fundamental human rights are the people that government officials and police officers serve. Their stories and efforts must be considered as well. The main root of the problem, that the peaceful protesters are highlighting, must be seen. As Obama said “ [...] Just remember, this country was founded on protest. It is called the American Revolution," he said. "And every step of progress in this country, every expansion of freedom, every expression of our deepest ideals, has been won through efforts that made the status quo uncomfortable. And we should all be thankful for folks who are willing in a peaceful, disciplined way to be out there making a difference." Through the continuation of these protests, people are fostering a community that is self-aware about issues revolving around black lives. By seeking justice, they are not allowing the George Floyds of the world to not become a victim of their circumstances, but rather an opportunity to restore equality.
If you would like to lend your support during this difficult time, please utilize this link: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/ As Martin Luther King once said “ as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again.” Let us continue to strive for peace and equality through some simple but yet powerful actions, by looking at the link above. Let us allow more children to have families to come home to, and the security in knowing that they are safe. We can not take back his life, but change George Floyd’s narrative by helping the black community “breathe” once again.