George Floyd was murdered earlier this week by Officer Derek Chauvin, of the Minneapolis Police Department, in a brutal display of abuse of power and lack of sympathy for anyone other than himself that was evidenced in a video that went viral (included below for those of you who want to watch it, I never want to see it again). We discussed the video on the latest episode of Muddied Waters of Freedom briefly on Tuesday after it went viral, and talked about the militarization of the police a bit, without weighing in completely on the George Floyd incident. Over the course of the many years we have been doing this, we did not want to weigh in on anything too early, even in cases where it appears to be obvious what occurred. This was one of those cases. What you saw on the video was what happened, we could have speculated and been correct.
George Floyd, a native of Houston where he had earned the nickname, the “Gentle Giant” due to his 6 foot, 6 inch frame and kind demeanor, had recently lost his job as a bouncer due to the Government sponsored small business shut down that has plagued many in this nation. He stepped into a grocery store and allegedly attempted to pass a counterfeit $20. The shop owner, understandably not wanting to be ripped off, did what we have been trained to do as a society: Call the police. It was when Derek Chauvin and the three silent onlookers showed up.
In the video, for those who were brave enough to watch the entire thing, you can see as Chauvin presses his knee down on Floyd’s neck as onlookers shouted for him to stop. This appeared to egg the sadist on, as he readjusted himself multiple times in an act of defiance intended to state (I can only assume) that no civilian would ever tell him how to do his job. The citizens begged him to stop as George Floyd gasped for air, weakly managing to get out the words “I Can’t Breathe,” a heartbreaking memory of Eric Garner’s final words as well. Chauvin’s face showed no shock, no regret, or no shame as he slowly choked the life out of the man who’s neck was beneath his knee (and for those who want to know if I have been trained in this: yes, I took Paul Eckman’s courses on Micro Expressions and Subtle Expressions and got an 86 and a 98 respectively in both courses).
The four officers who were at the scene were fired on Tuesday, but this is not good enough. This is not good enough for me. This is not good enough for the people of Minneapolis. This is not good enough for the friends and family of George Floyd, and this is definitely not good enough for George Floyd himself. Too many times in the past have we seen officers of the law commit heinous crimes and get off with suspensions, or maybe being terminated with pensions still in tact, but rarely do we see them get prosecuted. Prosecution is what everyone in this country deserves, but not anyone deserves this outcome more than George Floyd (Minneapolis Mayor, Jacob Frey, has called for Chauvin to be charged, but we will see how the turns out. History does not have a favorable track record in these circumstances).
Minneapolis exploded in protests Tuesday night as people wanted justice for George. They are not a group of people who wanted to loot (although some did see this as an opportunity, and I do not condone those actions), nor were they looking to destroy businesses (but again, this happened, and I do not condone it), but they were people who are fed up with a system where black men are murdered by police for a variety of reasons, none of which constitute their actual slaughter. They are angry that the law does not apply for Officers like Derek Chauvin who was in the middle of murdering someone and three of his cohorts stood by and watched as though they were ensuring his initiation into a gang of which he was already a member.
The outrage online at the people who are protesting is misguided. They should in fact be outraged at the breakdown of government from the top to the bottom in the death of George Foley. The Minneapolis Police Department failed when they hired, trained, and gave Chauvin a badge. The city failed by giving unwarranted power to police departments, as well as to their state governments who shut down their businesses. The state failed by shutting down small businesses, making people like George Floyd lose their jobs.
The public execution of George Floyd continues to point out the errors in the system; errors that are rigged against the black and poor community. These errors will continue to be pointed out every time we see another unarmed black man killed in the streets by people who think their piece of metal gives them the right to murder with no repercussions.
I think back to an interview that Trey Gowdy did on Fox News after the murder of Ahmaud Arbery where Gowdy said, “I think what people of color want to know is, ‘Where is the justice before it’s on video?” Because most of this stuff is not on video.”
Trey is right. It shouldn’t take the murder of George Floyd to spark this kind of anger toward the system. They have proven time after time they deserve the same amount of trust and leniency they offer to every citizen, which as we can see from so many instances is none.
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