On May 25, 2020, 46-year-old George Floyd died in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, after video showed police officer Derek Chauvin pinning Floyd to the ground with his knee on his neck. Police had been called after Floyd apparently tried to use a counterfeit $20 bill to purchase cigarettes. In the graphic video of the altercation filmed by a bystander, it shows Chauvin continuing to pin Floyd for approximately 9 minutes while Floyd stated numerous times he was struggling to breathe. This interaction turned fatal, and Floyd was pronounced dead. The punishment for forgery in the United States is imprisonment up to three years and a fine up to $5,000, not death.
The problem is that somehow racist behaviors are still socially accepted, so how do we fix it?
Living with a justice system that continues to work against people of color, not challenging racist jokes, believing it’s okay for non-black people to say the N-word, All Lives Matter, and denial that white privilege exists are all ways that racist behaviors continue, and there is so much I do not understand.
I do not understand how people can protest the stay at home orders instilled by state and local governments in regards to COVID-19 with firearms strapped across their bodies, demanding the government reopen after having no choice but to close and nothing is done, but then when a black man is suspected of using a fake $20 bill, he is murdered.
I do not understand how some can call themselves pro-life and then turn their back during situations of injustice.
I do not understand why George Floyd’s death is “third-degree murder.” The police officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck was charged with third-degree murder on Friday, May 29. Third-degree murder is described as killing someone unintentionally. Floyd repeatedly pleaded to the officers that he could not breathe and he was ignored. I do not understand how intentionally kneeling on someone’s neck can be viewed as an accident.
The Black Lives Matter movement exists because white lives have always mattered, but black lives haven’t — that is the difference.
I do not understand why some had a problem with NFL player Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protest of kneeling to bring awareness to social injustices. Those who want to see change have tried to protest peacefully. As Civil Rights Leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “A riot is the voice of the unheard.” When injustice becomes law, rebellion becomes duty. Instead of being upset with the protests, be upset with why those protesting feel they have to do it in the first place.
Here is what I do understand, and what will bring positive change.
Those who are white cannot deny that white privilege exists. Brock Turner raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster in 2015, and he served only 3 months of his six-month sentence, all while Rodney Reed, a black man from California was charged with capital murder that he didn’t commit. The police officer who killed Floyd is being charged with third-degree murder, which comes with a maximum sentence of 25 years. Willie Simmons, a veteran and a black man in the state of Alabama, has spent 38 years so far of a life sentence in prison for stealing $9 in 1982. Eric Garner had just broken up a fight. Ezell Ford was walking in his neighborhood. Alton Sterling was selling CDs. Tamir Rice was playing in a park with a toy gun – just like many of us do with Nerf guns without ever worrying about someone opening fire on us. And Tamir Rice was 12. Botham Jean was eating ice cream in his living room. Dominique Clayton and Breonna Taylor were sleeping in their bed. And then they were all killed.
I know that I need to have a stronger voice when I hear someone tell a racist joke, or use the n-word.
I know that racism can be stopped, I know that murder is worse than rioting, and I know that protests that turn to riots can be stopped when wrongful convictions and wrongful deaths end.
I know that when society has to explain that any lives matter at all, there is a definitive problem in this world.
What will you do to bring positive change?