“I can’t breathe,” were the words George Floyd uttered with his hands handcuffed behind his back, while a police officer kneeled directly on his neck, refusing to move for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. When the police officer – Derek Chauvin – finally removed his knee from George’s neck, George’s body was unresponsive. He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
George Floyd was an unarmed Black man. Earlier, a grocery clerk had called the police thinking George had tried to use a forged currency in the store, but that phone call proved to be fatal when the police arrived. If the police hadn’t used force unlawfully, George would still be alive today.
Now, more than nine months later, Chauvin is on trial – the first of the four cops to face a jury and second-degree unintentional murder and manslaughter charges. Pending the outcome of this trial, the remaining three cops are expected to be tried later this summer. However, anyone who has been paying attention knows that will likely not happen if Chauvin is acquitted, given that Chauvin is seen as the officer most culpable in Floyd’s death.
The thought that Chauvin and the other officers could walk free weighs heavily on the minds of Black residents of Minneapolis, the surrounding Twin Cities and the nation. Although some may believe that the damning video of Floyd’s murder will definitely result in a conviction, those who have been paying attention know that an acquittal is possible. No officer in recent history, if ever, has been convicted of killing a Black person in the state of Minnesota.
George’s death came in the wake of a series of acts of racist violence against Black Americans that illustrates astounding levels of violence and discrimination in the USA. This includes the killing of a Black man who was out jogging, Ahmaud Arbery; the killing of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman who was sleeping in her apartment when the police opened fire on her, and so many more. The police commit human rights violations at a shockingly frequent rate, particularly against racial and ethnic minorities, and especially Black Americans. In 2019 alone, the police were involved in the deaths of over 1,000 people in the USA. Those aren’t just numbers, but a person’s life: someone’s parent, sibling, cousin, nephew, spouse, child.
George’s family and community are calling for all those responsible to be held accountable and for guarantees that this will not happen again.
We join them in this call for justice! All of those responsible in the death of George Floydmust be held accountable!