On May 25th, George Floyd, a 41-year-old African American, was detained by four officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Nine minutes later the police officers murdered George Floyd. Suspected of buying cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill, officers Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng, and Tuo Thao reciprocated that with murdering him in broad daylight with multiple witnesses looking upon in horror. Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and forty-six seconds, in which Floyd pleaded with the police that he couldn’t breathe along with multiple bystanders pleading that they were killing the man. Yet Chauvin didn’t let up, even when paramedics arrived to an unresponsive Floyd, Chauvin still didn’t remove his knee for a full minute. The video is horrifying to watch, and it is heartbreaking to see the continued lack of accountability for police brutality and racism against African Americans in this country.
After this event, peaceful protests, riots, and calls to action spread throughout the nation, with calls to arrest the four men behind the murder and be detained and charged. So far, after nights of protests and riots setting cities ablaze, only Derek Chauvin has been arrested. After nights of unrest Chauvin was taken in and has been charged with third-degree murder. Minnesota is one of three states to have the classification of third-degree murder; according to state statutes a person can be charged with third-degree murder “by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind,” without regard for life and without intent to kill. These charges can be up to the maximum of 25 years in prison.
Across the country peaceful protests have been demonstrating day in and day out for Justice for George Floyd. These protests have been met with police agitation and rioters sewing more discourse. Within the voices of the people screaming out for the systemic racism and abuse of authority to stop within the police force, it has been met with tear gas, rubber bullets, batons, threats of violence, and more police brutality. These past few days and weekend has shown the world how corrupt and backwards the police are in this country.
First, I’ll cover how the media and journalists have been treated by the police. It all started on Friday when Minnesota State Patrol troopers arrested CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez, a black/Latino man, on live television. Jimenez was fully compliant with the officers, saying they could move away if need be, yet the officers only responded with handcuffs and censorship of the press. This can only be seen as the police trying to silence disposition, the only way for them not to get bad press is to remove any press. Foregoing the freedom of press and right to assembly laid out by the first amendment, the police show their disregard for the law, which is why the protests are happening in the first place. Jimenez and his crew were released an hour later, and Governor Tim Walz issued a public apology.
While that was the most covered incident with journalists and police, it was also the tamest. Linda Tirado, a freelance photographer covering the protests in Minneapolis was shot on Friday and is now blind in her left eye. Protesters carried her out and she was rushed to the hospital, but there was nothing they could do, and it is likely she will never again be able to see from her left eye. MSNBC host Ali Velshi was fired upon with tear gas, without any protestors nearby, seemingly to disperse him and his crew from doing their jobs. Another incident led to a local Louisville news team being fired upon by police with pepper balls, even though they had followed their directions and provoked nothing out of the police, the police still responded by pelting them. Another account, again from Minneapolis had a group of journalists and media being tear gassed at point blank. There have been multiple other instances of police firing upon press, and it doesn’t seem like it will stop either. The complete lack of regard for the law and any decency from the police in how they’re handling the riots is exactly why there needs to be change; and if you think the press have been treated harshly the evidence of violence against protestors is even more staggering.
There are numerous cases of police agitating and goading the protestors to retaliate. With many peaceful protests drawing hundreds, and thousands by the day, only to end up with violence and riots by the night; and the main perpetrators are the police themselves. Just to be warned many of these videos are violent and can be upsetting.
One incident, in Los Angeles, with what began as a peaceful protest with protestors kneeling and preaching that black lives matter later broke out into unprovoked violence by the police. Accounts of the protest said that they were peaceful until police came and beat protestors with batons, and again how is this right? How does a system allow for them, in response to protests against police brutality, respond with more police brutality?
Along with this, there have been instances of police pepper spraying protesters unprovoked. Here’s one with the man’s hands in the air standing still, having his mask pulled down and being pepper sprayed. Here’s another with a woman walking away from Columbus police only to be maced from behind by one of the officers. One of the most egregious, comes from Denver where a patrol car does a drive-by pepper spraying of innocent protestors and bystanders.
There are also videos of cops assaulting protestors, pushing them to the ground, beating them with batons, and threatening violence. One of the most popular circling around is NYPD driving their patrol cars into protestors, luckily no protestors were hurt by this. While Mayor De Blasio defended the action, many others have denounced this excessive use of force and in no situation should police use their vehicles as a means of dispersing protestors by driving into them. Another incident involved a protestor being arrested with the officers placing his knee on his neck, the same thing that killed George Floyd. Here’s a video of police forcing themselves through peaceful protestors sitting on the ground. This video, of two people being dragged out of their car and tasered highlights what is so wrong with everything going on right now. Protestors have only been met with violence, from a system that is focused on control and to make the common people fear rather than respect them.
Cops have also been seen to disrupt those who aren’t even protesting. One such case saw a woman in Dallas who was out grocery shopping shot in the forehead with a pepper bullet. Another saw people on their porch being fired upon, with cops yelling and one saying “light ‘em up.” They did nothing illegal, the governor himself said you could be on your porch during curfew and the police respond by shooting them. Also, if your unfortunate enough to suffer from the effects of tear gas, pepper spray, or pepper bullets, you might want to know that milk and water will help calm the effects; of course unless police destroy those supplies like in this viral video from Louisville. There are so many videos just like these, I’m sure I’ve missed many, and many more will pop up after this is published, and it just goes to show how widespread of a problem this really is.
While the country has seen mass protests and civil unrest, the President of the United States has only answered with inciting more violence and sowing further discourse in an already unstable political minefield. With the country suffering from a global pandemic, to over 50 million Americans unemployed and without healthcare, to riots and protests around the nation, Donald Trump is hiding behind secret security with the lights out and having a “public beef” with Twitter over being fact-checked.
Along with Trump claiming it would be “MAGA-night” at the protest outside Washington D.C. there have been various reports on white supremacist groups gathering for the protest to further tensions between protestors and police. One such instance, we see a young white man armed with a gun and Kevlar vest talking about his “group” and what they are there for. The idea of “boogaloo” is to incite a second civil war and take advantage of race riots to further their white supremacist’s agenda. Never forget that during the Charlottesville’s “Unite the Right” protest, Neo-Nazi’s and other white supremacists’ groups stormed the streets waving Nazi, confederate, and KKK flags and chanted Nazi slogans. In response, Donald Trump called the counter-protestors the agitators and said there were “very fine people on both sides,” a side filled with literal Nazis, something our country fought and many brave men died to defeat such tyranny, Donald Trump called them good people. This is in stark contrast to his opinions on black lives matter protestors at his gate calling them “thugs” and that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” and how he’d use “vicious attack dogs and ominous weapons” if any dare get near him. Trump has time and time again shown how ineffective a leader he is, when the nation is struggling and lashing out, he has no words of comfort for them.
While writing this article even more info has come up as Donald Trump is now threatening to deploy the military across the country if protests don’t stop. Threatening to “dominate” the “domestic acts of terror” with military action is despicable. Also, to deliver this “speech” Trump had peaceful protesters tear gassed so he could go to a nearby church for a photo-op. Shortly after, the church themselves denounced the act, claiming how Trump did not express ideas that align with the church. They condemned his calls for violence and were mortified to know how he handled protesters on his way there and the assertations he has made to them.
He is enacting a law written over 200 years ago and violating state’s rights to threaten the people he is supposed to lead with a military who are supposed to protect them. Now, if Trump has his ways, martial law would be declared, and the peaceful protestors would be silenced by fellow citizens. That’s textbook fascism right there, you cannot defend these actions as anything other than an authoritarian figure trying to silence his opposition. Along with that, Trump also tried to declare Antifa as a terrorist organization. First, antifa is not an organization, there are no leaders or establishment to the group; and second, Antifa stands for Anti-fascist. Antifa have never killed anyone and are usually counter protesting far right, neo-Nazi rallies. If Trump wants to declare Antifa as a terrorist organization then I guess every veteran of WWII is now posthumously a terrorist. It’s doubtful this would go anywhere, but if it did, the precedent is terrifying. Just being at the protests could have you labeled a terrorist and detained, only exacerbating the issue of police overstepping other’s freedom and furthering fascist sentiment’s seeing a scary rise in the world of today’s politics.
While Trump has been absentee as a leader, many in the black community have voiced their opinion and struggle. In an emotional video political activist/rapper Killer Mike addresses on Atlanta news that they need to be better and quell the violent riots yet continue to peacefully protest and bring about change. Killer Mike exclaims, “So I am duty-bound to be here to simply say that it is your duty not to burn your own house down for anger with an enemy. It is your duty to fortify your own house so that you may be a house of refuge in times of organization. And now is the time to plot, plan, strategize, organize and mobilize.” His sentiment is a great reminder of the good in people, and his urge to go out and vote out those who would harm others because of their skin color is a great battle-cry for peaceful change. Another voice to be heard is that of NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in an op-ed to the L.A. Times. Kareem highlights how black people have been pushed to the edge, with countless times their pleas and answers never being heard and these riots are in reaction to a broken system that treats them like second class citizens. Former President Barrack Obama has also voiced his support of the protests and calls upon those to seek justice and change. This community has suffered many atrocities and it is time to fix what has been broken for far too long, the sentiments of these fine and inspiring gentlemen should be a wakeup call to any that still doubt that this country needs to go through drastic change if we are to become a better society as a whole.
The police in this country act less like an institution for justice and more like an occupational force. To meet protestors and rioters with more violence and hate only shows how broken the system is. When there are those praying for black men and women to not be killed by the police for no just cause, and it is met with riot gear and tear gas being shot at them, that’s inexcusable and is exactly why these protests will remain until something is done.
There is a long history of racism and police brutality against African Americans in this country. The Civil Rights movement only happened 60 years ago, to think that institutionalized and systemic racism just vanished is infantile. Just this past month we have seen a modern-day lynching in which Ahmaud Arbery was killed simply because he was a black man jogging in the “wrong neighborhood” and an incident where a black man was threatened to have the police called on him because he asked a woman to please leash her dog.
We must stand together and dispel this country of its racist and bigoted cowards. They are not welcome here, and we must make it known that racism will never again be accepted in this country. If we really are the greatest country in the world then we should act like it, the time is now for change. Please go out and vote this November, this may be the most important election in any of our lifetime; and if you want change: vote. To dismantle the institutionalized racism and police brutality that is rampant in this country they must be held accountable.
I’ll finish this off by simply saying that black lives matter, they always have, and they always will. I hope this leads to change and I commend every single person out there protesting for justice.