The past few days have been really intense in America, as result of a video showing a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on George Floyd’s neck despite the latter’s several pleads of “I can’t breathe”.
George Floyd, a 46 year old African American was arrested on the May 25th in light of a report of a fake $20 bill. A call had been put through to 911 by an employee at Cups Food. Apparently, George Floyd had just paid for a pack of cigarettes with a $20 bill that the employee believed to be fake and after asking George Floyd to return the cigarettes – which he didn’t. The employee made the call to follow protocol.
George Floyd, who had been a bouncer in the city but just like many Americans, had been rendered jobless due to the pandemic was arrested by Officer Thomas Lane, who pulled out a gun and ordered George Floyd to show his hands.
Mr. Floyd complied but a struggle ensued as the officers tried to force him into the car. Soon after, Derek Chauvin came to the scene and in a bid to force George Floyd who had earlier said he was “claustrophobic” dragged him to the ground in handcuffs. In a bid to restrain George Floyd, Officer Chauvin rested his knee on his neck for 8 minutes and 45 seconds which caused Mr. Floyd to stop breathing and ultimately, die.
A number of people have taken to the streets to protest even as a movement has erupted on social media with the hashtags #BlackLivesMatter and #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd among others. People have called for justice and do not seem to be backing down soon.
Protests have begun in multiple cities in America in a bid to put an end to systematic racism even as more cases of black people who were murdered for just being black, resurface.
Celebrities like Beyonce; Singer, Cornel West; Professor/Activist and John Boyega; Actor, among many others, have all taken to their pages on social media to express solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
It is interesting to see that years after racism has been supposedly said to be abolished in the United States of America, people are still treated unfairly and even murdered because of the color of their skin. It is to be remembered that on the 13th of March this year, Breonna Taylor-a qualified EMT, was brutally murdered in her own house in Louisville, Kentucky by officers during a drug investigation. It should also be noted that they broke into her house and reportedly shot her eight times.
On the February 23, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed African American was shot near Brunswick in Glynn County, Georgia on his way home. He was confronted by two white residents in persons of Travis McMichael and his father Gregory McMichael who were both armed. No arrests were made despite the presence of video evidence until the video went viral on YouTube and Twitter. The video caused an uprising and 74 days after the incident, the McMichaels were arrested and charged with felony murder and attempted false imprisonment.
It causes us to ask the question – “WHY?” Why did the arrest have to take over two months despite very solid evidence? If the video never went viral, would justice still be served?
Being an African American living in the U.S. is hard. You can be killed while staying in your house, attending a party, driving your car, or even because another person “FEELS” you are a threat. This means, for the very fact that you are BLACK, you could be killed, no questions asked, no answers required.
Beyond protesting and campaigns on social media, people have taken to looting a Target to luxury shops. While many believe looting shops is not the best way to go about asking for justice or fighting racism, many would disagree. Either way we don’t agree with the looting but we understand the anger. “A riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear?”(Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.)