May 25th is a day that will remain on the hearts of many. This is the day another black man died at the hands of a person who has sworn an oath to protect each citizen of the United States. On May 25th a black man named George Floyd died as a result of a brutal police assault. The assault was captured in a bystander video. The footage shows a white Minneapolis Police Department officer named Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck as he shouts, “I can’t breathe” and several bystanders shout for Chauvin to stop his attack. After several minutes, Floyd’s body appears to go limp. The Minneapolis Police Department later said in a statement that Floyd, 46, died of a “medical incident.” Following Floyd’s death, the four police officers present at the scene were terminated. Four days later, Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, while the other three officers escaped arrest altogether. Since then, protesters have demanded that all four men be brought to justice. On June 3rd, Attorney General Keith Ellison upgraded the charges against Chauvin to second-degree murder and manslaughter and brought charges against former MPD officers Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng. The Mayor of Minneapolis says he believes George Floyd would still be alive today if he had been white.
On June 1st, Benjamin Crump, a lawyer representing the family, focused his remarks on the need for justice, not just for Floyd but others who encountered a similar fate. "What we saw in that video was evil. So, America, we proclaim as we memorialize George Floyd, do not cooperate with evil. Protest against evil,'' Crump said, his voice rising as those in the audience applauded. "Join the young people in the streets protesting against the evil, the inhumane, the torture that they witnessed on that video.'' As the community reflects on the actions by police officers that led to George Floyd’s death, they could not help but be reminded of Eric Garner, another unarmed Black man who, like George Floyd, cried out ‘I can’t breathe’ but was ignored by New York City police offices and died as a result of their negligence and excessive use of force. Ms. Maxime Waters, congresswomen who delivers powerful speeches on the behalf of African American citizens everywhere, attended the live event that was held at 7:00 pm and said, “I am grateful to those who captured video footage of the inhumane and unconscionable treatment that George Floyd was subjected to by law enforcement officers. Just as we have witnessed with the murder of Ahmaud Arbery by armed white vigilantes who were not arrested until video footage was released publicly, were it not for the video footage of George Floyd being pinned to the ground by the knee of a police officer for five minutes, the swift action by the City of Minneapolis to remove the four officers from the police department may not have occurred. While I am pleased with the firing of the officers involved in this incident, George Floyd’s death must be properly investigated by an independent counsel, and all who were involved must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Such injustice at the hands of the police must not be tolerated.”
Unfortunately, with the current state of events, African Americans cannot trust the current U.S. attorney general or the current president of the United States to provide leadership. Maxime continues, “We cannot trust that they will use the power of their offices to confront the racial bias, targeting, and use of excessive force by police officers across the country. In the absence of leadership from our nation’s highest office, I will be in contact with the nation’s leading civil rights organizations and criminal justice reform advocacy groups as we unite and confront this epidemic of violence head-on, and with one strong voice.” She urges everyone to become conscious of your right to vote and protest. “The justice system does not serve us. They were not designed to serve us. It was designed to keep its foot on our necks no matter what happens. There is no justice when it comes to police in front of a jury – the judges will always side with them and now we have a president who has been vigorously calling for violence. We must continue to work to inspire and instill in them the importance to vote.”