Killing an unarmed Black man during a pandemic is like throwing gasoline on a fire. The people are hot, and their patience burns for comfort. In a dry season of normality and justice, it makes sense that one spark sets the nation ablaze.
Intention does not excuse murder. As much as we would like to pursue a first degree or premeditated murder charge, it will not stand in the trial. Yes, when the officers chose to ignore George Floyd’s screams, and instead listen to their voices of internalized racism, a man died.
Nonetheless, it isn't easy to prove intention.
I tried to explain my perspective of the Floyd case last weekend to my wife. I failed, and we went to bed, upset with each other. Words, unlike the poetic opening sentences of this post, left my mouth and reached ears that could not hear me.
My wife was full of rage after seeing the video of police officers kill another unarmed Black man. I decided not to subject myself to watching the murder. As someone born in America, I have played that scenario in my head during every encounter with the police. I read multiple accounts of the Floyd case, to learn that I did not need the visual images to accompany the horror.
George Floyd screamed for his mom and air in his final moments, while officers held their knees against his neck and body in another abuse of state-sanctioned power. He is the latest among others, such as Breonna Taylor, Rekia Boyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and Emmit Till, who lost their lives to violence by the hands of white supremacy.
I understand the anger behind the protests.
When people lose hope in the institutions that claim to protect and serve, they get desperate. The protests, riots, and looting are desperate attempts to bring awareness and influence change. Yes, people can vote, petition, and write letters to Senators, but these options do not appear to impact the behaviors of some police officers patrolling the streets.
I want to believe that when the officers arrived on the scene in Minneapolis, they did not get out of the car to kill someone. I want to think that officers asked themselves questions before closing the door to their squad cars and approaching George Floyd.
Evidence suggests officers did not ask...
What purpose would killing this man serve today?
Does this man have a family?
How will the public respond to killing an unarmed Black man during a pandemic?
Will I be able to keep my family after spending thirty years in prison for not following arrest protocols?
How difficult is a prison sentence for former police officers?
The officers’ rage powered by racism and badges influenced their decisions to murder at that moment and ask questions later. They chose to execute a suspect in a $20 counterfeit bill case.
Let’s think further about this situation.
Throughout the United States, people have been locked in their homes to minimize the spread of the virus. Depression is on the rise as people suffer from social isolation. Many families are without income, and life is tougher than usual in underserved communities. The coronavirus just arrived, but the impact of racism never left people of color.
In the live feeds on social media, world star hip-hop, and local news, the rioters are from diverse backgrounds. Black, white, Asian, and Latino/a/x communities are expressing their rage in the streets.
From Los Angeles to New York, big and small cities have issued curfews to discourage peaceful protests, rioting, and looting.
The people are tired of putting hope in politicians and police officers. Lynching practices, police brutality, an obsession with guns and power are synonymous with the history and culture of America.
American politics support the belief that killing resolves conflict.
It doesn’t matter if the President poses with The Bible. His actions and threats in support of white supremacy and military dictatorship speak louder than symbolic gestures. Whether we are talking about the assassination of leaders, murdering an unarmed Black man on a sidewalk in Minneapolis, or bombing an Afghanistan community, peace is an undervalued solution from the White House.
Some of America's children are following in their parents’ footsteps.
I am not condoning the rioting, stealing, or other crimes happening throughout the United States. My politics support peaceful protests alongside negotiation and conversation before violence. Yet the rage in the streets makes sense.
Police officers must stop killing unarmed Black men, women, and children.
Yes, being a police officer is a difficult job. It comes with daily risks and weekly uncertainties. I have family members and friends who wear their police badges with pride. The challenges of the profession do not neglect the importance of understanding that #blacklivesmatter.
The judicial system has flaws and it cannot continue to permit officers to issue death sentences on sidewalks.
For the sake of Black lives, the most vulnerable population targeted in the streets, and humanity, things must change.
The officers in the Floyd case are in custody, but justice remains skeptical.
What can you do? Below are three of the many options to practice self-care and join the struggle to end police brutality.
1. Go within yourself to discover positivity and hope. Prayer, meditation, yoga, capoeira, and writing are my go-to internal activities to reduce stress.
2. Join a peaceful protest. Looting and rioting hinder the movement from pushing forward with full force.
3. Sign a petition to influence change. The one found at this link is an option.