Justice For George Floyd: A Movement In Time
It isn’t often that one witnesses history in the making. Still, for those of us who have been watching the case of George Floyd, an American black man choked to the death on the streets of Minneapolis, what we and the world witnessed was true, a historical moment in our time.
George Floyd’s tragic death caught on camera and witnessed by bystanders, paramedics, and security cameras in real-time, triggered some of the largest protests in the US since the Civil Rights movement of the 60s. It stood against a larger backdrop of the killings of other, unarmed black Americans by the police- Laquan Macdonald, Eric Brown, Breonna Taylor.
Up until that in May, while the killing of unarmed black people would trigger outrage and protest campaigns calling for the policemen to get prosecuted, little action, if any, would transpire on the ground. But George Floyd’s death was the breaking point.
The graphic video footage showed Chauvin kneeling with his knee on Floyd’s neck, hands in his pocket. He kept at this for a full nine minutes and twenty seconds. Even when George Floyd said he couldn’t breathe and lost consciousness, Chauvin didn’t remove his knee for another whole minute after paramedics arrived.
After the video came out, hundreds of thousands of protestors converged in the intersection in South Minneapolis, where he was killed. The next day, the Minneapolis Police Chief fired all four officers- Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao- who were present at that time on scene. Chauvin, who was the most visible in the video footage taken by witnesses, was charged with second-degree and third-degree manslaughter. The other three officers face charges of aiding and abetting George Floyd’s murder.
We have had a year-long movement to bring justice for Black Americans and ponder the question: what does it mean to be black in America?
Floyd’s death came at a time when racial tensions were at an all-time high. Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor- all victims of police shootings, all lost their lives to police using excess force. But George Floyd’s death happened in broad daylight, execution-style, triggering worldwide protests and a public overhaul in attitude towards racial discrimination.
70% of Americans who began to support Black Lives Matter said that George Floyd’s death was a major source of motivation. 69% said that tensions between Black people and police officers motivated them to change their minds. Public outrage grew, and the call for action resonated even louder. The Minneapolis prosecutor’s office charged Chauvin and the other officers with murder and manslaughter. Major Corporations such as Quaker Oats, and Twitter, the National Football League, NASCAR, NASA all avowed to and took a stand with Black Lives Matter. Black Out Tuesday, producers and actors are apologizing for being part of racist productions, the call out of incorrect media representation- all of the after-effects which are long-needed, but a relief all the same.
George Floyd’s daughter, Gianna, said that her Daddy “changed the world.” We can only hope that the change continues, that accountability is enforced, and that none of us will ever have to bear witness to an unarmed man pleading and begging for his life from the very personnel who were responsible for protecting him.