Updated: Jun 14, 2020
Unless you’ve been on a media fast for the past two and a half weeks, you know that George Floyd was murdered by a Minnesota police officer. Mr Floyd was handcuffed with his hands behind his back while two police officers pressed him in his back, pinning him to the ground. A third officer stood guard to block the view from the gathering crowd. The fourth officer, Derek Chauvin, held his knee in Mr. Floyd neck for almost 9 mins and snuffed the life out of him in front of our very eyes, knowing he was being recorded.
I must admit, I’ve only been able to watch about 5 seconds of the recording. When I heard how Mr. Floyd pleaded for his life, repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe” and calling for his mother, my heart ripped into pieces. I cried like a baby. I still can’t watch that video. However, I was drawn to the image of officer Chauvin's face as he was killing Mr. Floyd surrounded with bystanders pleading on behalf of Mr. Floyd. I can only imagine what this officer thinking: “I’m untouchable. What are you gonna do about it?” It was a look of arrogance and pleasure.
This type of police brutality and hate crimes have become all too familiar in the black community. We were still reeling from heinous death of Ahmaud Aberey who was chased down and killed in Brunswick GA by three white men; Breonna Taylor who was killed in her bed when police in Kentucky stormed into her home with a no-knock warrant and killed her. Now, witnessing the violent death of George Floyd was the straw that broke the camel's back. This was the tipping point.
Despite the injustices of the past, I am hopeful that George Floyd and the precious lives that have been lost at the hands of police brutality and hates crimes that we've witnessed over the past ten years or more, I have a sense of hope that their deaths were not in vain. Here are just three reasons we should feel hopeful:
1. Mr. Floyd's death captured the world’s attention. It’s ironic that the world was in a lock down brought on by a global pandemic most have never experienced in our lifetime. People were home watching without being distracted by a lot of noise. The world got to see why Colin Kaepernick, former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, was kneeling before he was white balled from playing in the NFL. There was international outrage and protests like we’ve never seen before, not even during the civil rights movement in the 50’s and 60’s. Even the pope in Rome chimed in!
2. It sparked real conversations. This was a teachable moment. There were some very uncomfortable conversations that needed to be had. I hope there will be more. There were panels and programs with blacks and whites, where white people were finally listening. My Caucasian friends, please understand that you have privileges that black people don’t have. You’re given the benefit of the doubt in any given situation. You’ve never had to give you white sons and daughters “the talk” about racism and policy brutality. I’m glad there was dialogue and I’m hopeful that the dialogue will cause action.
3. This injustice caused self-reflection. Most people, particularly in the white community had been silent about these atrocities. The people who tried to change the narrative when Colin Kaepernick was protesting police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem, had to admit it wasn’t about the flag or lack or patriotism. It never was. No more trying to change the narrative, and those who continue to try, their voices will be drowned out.
But we can’t just talk. We have to take action toward police reform and pass laws to eradicate systemic racism. We know that change isn’t going to occur over night. However, the wheels of justice have been set in motion. In fact, the Congressional House of Representative will be introducing police reform legislation in the next few day. It’s a start.
What happened to George Floyd isn’t new, but his murder was a defining moment for posterity. The Bible says there is a time and season for all things. For Laquan McDonald, Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Freddy Gray, Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Emmett Till and all of the other black and brown people whose lives were taken at the hands of these evil systems, I believe "the system" picked the wrong on this time. George Floyd's legacy will be remembered as the turning point to progress for justice and equality for all people.