“I Can’t Breathe” – the death of George Floyd

I didn’t want to write a blog post without addressing the horrific act of violence which has shaped events over the past week.

George Floyd was murdered outside Cup Foods, where he was a regular customer. Credit: Flickr

On May 25, a teenage Minneapolis deli employee called 911, believing that a 46-year-old black man who ‘appeared drunk’ had just tried to buy cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill.

The owner of Cup Foods, Mike Abumayyaleh told NBC that his employee was following protocol and that the man – later identified as George Floyd – was a regular, pleasant customer who never caused any trouble.

Witnesses have recalled how, upon arriving at the scene, the police used a gun to demand Floyd raise his hands, before pulling him out of his car.

In camera footage, a white police officer can be seen restraining Mr. Floyd – by kneeling on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds.

During this time Mr. Floyd, who was unarmed, repeatedly said: “I can’t breathe”, while pleading for his mother and begging “please, please, please”.

Around six minutes into the incident, Mr. Floyd – described by his family as a devoted father and ‘gentle giant’ – became unresponsive and bystanders encouraged officers to check for his pulse.

Despite one of four officers, JA Kueng, checking his right wrist and announcing that he “couldn’t find one”, nobody moved and the officers knee remained on his neck for almost 3 minutes more.

After almost 9 minutes, the officer finally stood and Mr Floyd was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead an hour later.

The four police officers seen on camera have since been fired from their jobs and officer Derek Chauvin, 44, has been charged with third degree murder.

Credit: Flickr

In the days following the incident there have been riots, looting and protests across the USA, on a scale not seen since the 1960’s.

Replica protests in other countries have taken place, showing solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Terrence Floyd speaks at his brothers memorial in Minnesota. Credit: Flickr

The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis is something that has angered and disgusted me.

He is by no means the first to lose his life due to police brutality and racism, and it has opened my eyes to just how massive these issues continue to be in our world.

According to statistics by CNBC.com, in 2019, the American police force killed 3 people per day, a total of almost 1,100 killings.

Black people accounted for 24% of those killed, despite making up only 13% of the population.

Shockingly, 99% of killings by police between 2013-2019 resulted in officers not being charged with any crime.

Police officers in the US are protected under a federal law known as “qualified immunity”.

US Capitol – Washington DC. Credit: Wikipedia

The qualified immunity doctrine protects government officials who performed an action within their official capacity, unless it violates a “clearly established” law or constitutional right.

Blackout Tuesday

Today (Tuesday 2 June), has been labelled Blackout Tuesday.

People across the globe have been encouraged to post a black screen on social media with the hashtag #blackouttuesday and spend the day researching and being educated, raising awareness and showing solidarity with the movement.

It began with Atlantic Records marketing executives Brianna Agyemang and Jamila Thomas, who wrote: “Tuesday, June 2nd is meant to intentionally distrupt the work week”.

They hope that it will provoke reflection and trigger widespread change.

Some businesses have announced that they will not be conducting any business for the day.

Although it originated within the music industry, TV channels and radio stations have also got involved, with MTV falling silent for eight minutes.

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

– Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 – 1968)

We all have learning to do, and I have found that life is full of disputes and misunderstandings. However, treating somebody differently based on the colour of their skin is despicable and should not be happening.

It scares me to think of what it will take for us to realise the importance of treating everyone equally, with kindness and respect.

Even though it has been nearly 60 years since Martin Luther King Jr fought for justice, we have not made 60 years worth of progress.

Until next time,

Stay safe. Stay well. Be kind.


Follow this link to see how you can help – https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co

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