For a moment, and only a moment, black people thought the main worry they had to be concerned about was protecting themselves from dying from COVID-19. However, it didn’t take long to receive a painful reminder that black lives are disposable in the eyes of police in this country.
On May 25, 2020, 46-year-old George Floyd was murdered by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was suspected of using a counterfeit $20 bill. In a video recorded of Floyd’s arrest and murder, a police officer can be seen restraining him with his knee on Floyd’s neck. Then what felt like a horrific flashback to Eric Garner in 2014, Floyd can be heard repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe.” To date, the officers involved have been fired, and at the time of this piece being published, only one officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder. This prompted mass outrage and protests around the country calling for these officers to be held accountable.
Even during a pandemic, cops are still killing black people and not being held responsible.
According to data collected by Mappingpoliceviolence.org, from 2013 to 2019, there have been 7,667 deaths in this country at the hands of police. Of the 7,667, 25% were African American. This figure is overwhelming because African Americans only make up 13.4% of the population. 99% of the officer-involved killings during this time period did not result in an officer being charged with a crime. That is roughly 7,590 deaths not seen as justifiable.
Families are not only left having to deal with feelings of grief, anger, and confusion, they are also having to deal with the trauma. Black Americans and police continue to be divided in this country. This division leaves a community of people feeling hopeless, afraid, and unprotected by the very people who vowed to keep them safe. Or maybe during their vow, there was a clause about blacks not being included in those who need protection? While the country has made progress throughout the years towards the unrealistic idea of a post- racial America, regrettably the murders of people like Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, show us that we have a long way to go to achieve anything remotely close to that. It’s hard to envision such a utopia when this country was built on racism, discrimination, and prejudices and shows no real signs of slowing down even in 2020. Let us remember the families and friends of George Floyd and the countless other men and women who have lost their lives at the hands of police. They are also victims and should be remembered too.
If you are looking for ways to advocate justice for George Floyd, see below.
● Out of respect for his family, please be mindful of the images/videos you are sharing and posting of Floyd. Graphic imagery only further desensitizes us.
● Write a letter to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey’s office.
● Sign Color of Change’s petition to demanding the arrest of the officers involved in Floyd’s murder online or by texting FLOYD to 55156.