A local shop keeper called police over $20 counterfeit bill, and the police suspected that Floyd had passed the bill.
Videos emerged demonstrating that he had been detained by the police, ended up on the ground with three police officers pinning him down, and one officer standing and looking around. One of the officers pinning him down placed and kept a knee on his throat. Floyd told the police who were pinning him down: "Please I can't breathe. My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. They're going to kill me." Minutes continue to pass and, he died.
|George Floyd holding up a bible with friends in Texas.|
Now the police officer charged with his murder, Derek Chauvin, who placed the knee on George Floyd's neck and disregarded his pleas to be able to breath has a last name (Chauvin) that is linked to the origin of the word chauvinism in the 19th century, to Nicolas Chauvin, that signifies prejudice and hostility to outsiders.
In the discussions of lethal force used by the police there is an understandable focus on black men, because according to 2019 study one in 1,000 can expect to be killed by the police, and they are most in danger during their life time. However, one in 2,000 men of all racial groupings, including the majority white population, can expect to be killed by the police during their life time. Reforms can take place that can reduce these numbers and place them in line with other Western countries. For example, neighboring Canada has a rate of police killing civilians of 9.7 per 10 million that is one third that of the United States that has a rate of 28.4 per 10 million.
We can do better.
These are strange, terrible days with COVID-19 claiming over 360,00 lives worldwide, with over a 100,000 fellow countrymen dead, racial tensions rising in the midst of chronic anxiety, and fear that we are just at the end of the beginning with tough times lying ahead with a pandemic and economic collapse.
Protests have exploded into riots, and innocents are also impacted, and it is ironic and tragic because Floyd lived his life as a peacemaker in his community.
The death of George Floyd for one rare moment united a divided America in condemnation for this unjust killing, and thanks to the video footage led to the firing of the four officers involved, and the charging of one of them, Chauvin with murder and manslaughter.
These are times when many are suffering through no fault of their own. But let us remember the words of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., "unearned suffering is redemptive."
The pursuit of justice and the reduction of impunity is not an easy journey, but it is both a needed and worth undertaking that requires great discernment and wisdom that often times requires hard earned experiences with injustice.