Eight minutes and 46 seconds.
Eight minutes and 46 seconds is how long it takes to kill a man with your knee.
Yes, with your knee.
George Floyd was an African American man who was held face down on the burning pavement in handcuffs by officer Derek Chauvin. Floyd became unresponsive two minutes and 53 seconds after Chauvin’s knee was forcefully placed on his neck. Bystanders Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kuend and Thomas K. Lane participated in Floyd’s arrest, while Keund was holding Floyd’s back, Lane holding his legs and Thao standing in the distance. Floyd was brutally assassinated in front of dozens of civilians who chose to do nothing but record the incident.
Derek Chauvin, murderer of George Floyd, was called due to what seemed to be a counterfeit $20 bill Floyd had tried to pay with at a deli in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Not only is Derek Chauvin responsible for Floyd’s murder, but every bystander at the scene is responsible, along with the man who initially called police on George.
When being forced onto the burning pavement, with Chauvin’s knee on his neck, Floyd cried out, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.” Floyd cried out for his mother who had passed two years previous to this event. Derek Chauvin, a soulless, inhumane man, ignored these cries for help. Chauvin and other officers at the scene were fired the next day, and Chauvin is being charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The other officers at the scene were recently charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
George Floyd was racially profiled due to the color of his skin. Because Floyd is a black man, he was deemed to be sketchy and a fraud. This is not the first incident to happen where black men and women were racially profiled. While racism is deeply rooted into U.S. history, this event has shed light onto many other tragedies like Floyd’s. In response to Floyd’s murder, thousands of people have gathered in cities like Minneapolis, Boston, New York City, Seattle, Los Angeles, Atlanta and more to protest Floyd’s murder. These protesters are not only protesting Floyd’s murder, but supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. Black men and women all over America are killed merely because of how they look. Black men and women are killed and beaten up because white supremacy still exists. Because racism still exists. Because the civil rights movement of 1954 wasn’t enough. Because people of color, specifically black folk, have to continue this fight. But they are not alone.
While there are thousands of stories just like Floyd’s surfacing, the fight will continue. These stories will become known to the public. The fight will continue for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Tamir Rice and the other hundreds of victims. These names will be known. They will be honored. They will be respected.
What started off as peaceful protests soon turned violent. Although many say violence isn’t the answer, then what is? What do we, people of color, have to do in order to be heard? What has to be done for change to occur? In this case, violence is justified. Racism is rooted so deep that this anger has been brewing for centuries and is now erupting. Black men and women have every right to be outraged, to be heard and to demand justice. Justice will be given with no excuse. The United States has failed to improve affordable health care, universal health care, starvation wages, mass incarceration, the lack of opportunities, racist politicians, history of police brutality and a racist justice system. Due to the lack of change, these issues have grown larger and more prominent over time, and we are tired of it. The black men and women who are protesting are protesting not only for their right to speak out, but their right to live. If you are simply upset by how these people are protesting instead of why they are protesting, you are a part of the problem.
The protests that are taking place are primarily in response to police brutality. Police have killed over 1,000 African American men and women because they believe they are “protecting the community.” Protecting the community does not mean killing every black man and woman in sight. Protecting the community does not mean taking advantage of those who are trying to go about everyday life. Police officers are no better than civilians. Their job is to uphold the law and nothing else. From what the media has seen, officers have failed to do so, as we saw with George Floyd.
While black men and women are out fighting for their lives, white civilians are protesting quarantine all over the United States, specifically in Chicago and Texas. The black men and women who are protesting are referred to as “thugs” while the white protesters are “tired of being inside.” This is a racial injustice that needs to change. “If your only reason for trying to start a movement is to take attention away from another movement, you might want to look at your real intentions behind it.”
Nobody was saying “straight pride” until we said “gay pride.”
Nobody was saying “all lives matter” until we said “black lives matter.”
Don’t let your privilege deceive you because it’s there and it’s loud.
Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Say it again, and then one more time. Black lives matter. This is history. Do your best to be a part of it.
Naomi Ravel is a member of the Gann Class of 2020.
Originally published on shevuonhatichon.com.
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