First and foremost, I am hopeful that everyone reading this is in good health and safe. We are still at war with an invisible enemy and still losing hundreds of people a day to this virus. I will be giving a statement on that topic in the coming days. In that same sense, I will not be covering the riots or protests specifically in this statement. Rest assured, I will be issuing a second statement today regarding that aftermath of this situation. In this post, I solely wish to focus upon George Floyd, as a person, the video circulating which depicts his death, and the police officers responsible for the inhumane treatment received by Mr. Floyd.
No human being, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, etc., should be treated in such cynical ways to the extent that Mr. Floyd was. The four cops shown in the video and accompanying photos must be charged as a result of their actions, which deify protocol as it is laid out in this situation. As of this moment, only one cop has been charged (3rd-degree murder and manslaughter). This is a complete and utter disgrace to all who have witnessed the incomprehensible actions committed by these men. Furthermore, the one officer who was charged was not even formally arrested, rather placed in protective custody due to death threats on his life. This, too, epitomizes the systemic injustice already rooted in this case. To be blunt, this officer is a criminal and should be treated as such by being arrested just as any other criminal accused of murder would be. To give him special treatment as a result of his position (former) as a police officer is appalling and sets a disastrous precedent for how cops accused of such high-standing crimes should be dealt with. Furthermore, the fact that he was free for over 24 hours after the video being released is startling. The first video alone, which was released within an hour after Floyd’s passing, had substantial evidence which would be enough to bring the officer in on the charge on manslaughter at the minimal. By this point, the other three officers should have been charged with manslaughter and associate to murder (3rd degree). The cop standing between those recording and the cops kneeling on Floyd was negligent and must be held accountable for allowing his colleagues to carry out this act. Fmr. Officer Derek Chauvin, in particular, must be charged to a higher degree– with 2nd Degree being the minimal. I stand with those who call for the charges to be raised but also acknowledge the sentiment that overcharging the convict will cause him to walk away a free man. In that sense, pushing for 1st degree, although debatably deserved, would not ever be upheld in the courts, and we would find ourselves in another Freddie Gray situation where the charges were dropped. We must demand justice in this legal case, and as such cannot overcharge any one of these four officers.
George Floyd was described as a “Gentle Giant,” by his friends and family. He grew up in Texas, plating football on his high school football team. When he moved to Minneapolis, he was hired as a security guard at a local restaurant. His managers described him as a lively person who was charismatic and kind to patrons. However, he lost his job due to the COVID-19 lockdown a few weeks prior to his death. He was attempting to change his ways after being released from prison and seemed to be succeeding in that effort in Minnesota. He leaves behind a young daughter and her mother. He loved the people of Minneapolis and would be devastated by the violence playing out in the street there presently. He was a quiet person, but had a gentle spirit. He lived to see others, sometimes even complete strangers, have fun. That is who Mr. Floyd is: a kind person, humbled by prior mistakes but working to overcome them to provide himself and his family with a better life. Does that not seem to resemble the very essence of the ‘American Dream’ itself? The fact is that he did not resist arrest as the cops accused him of initially, as shown in new footage. He was killed in the most horrific way imaginable: at the hands of those who we must believe are looking out for our best interest and safety. Those who state that this will never occur again are kidding themselves. We must do everything in our power to ensure that Mr. Floyd does not die in vain. What must occur for us to unanimously call for reform so that no other human being will be slain in the name of racial bias. Call a spade a spade: this killing was provoked as a result of an underlying lack of trust of this man simply because of the color of his skin and his complexion — which the cop perceived as a direct threat to his masculinity. Yes, black lives do matter, as do all others. If you find yourself scoffing at that sentiment, then you are no worse off than those cops. The problem is not completely white supremacy, but rather our inability to entertain equality across the board. If we cannot take a stand on that issue, are we really innovative? Are we really the generation to bring about that progress once and for all? Or will we cave to our predecessors mindset of: the next group will take care of it? We must take a stand, or nothing will change. Mr. Floyd embraced this generation, understood the unique challenges it faced, such as gun violence in schools. He used his voice to speak up for those in need, so I ask you: Will you speak up for those in need now?
– C. Lewis