Videos of the killing of a 46-year-old black man in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25th. by four policemen responding to a call concerning a fake $20 bill allegedly passed at a nearby corner grocery store have spread as fast as Covid-19 in nursing homes and have been viewed more than once by hundreds of millions of people around the world.
No video viewer is likely to forget the final nine minutes of George Floyd’s life in which he repeatedly begged for breath from policeman Derek Chauvin who sat nonchalantly with his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck while two other policemen, Thomas Lane and Alexander Kueng, held him down on the ground to further impede his breathing. Ton Thau, the fourth policeman, walked around the scene but also ignored Mr. Floyd’s cries for help.
The Minneapolis Police Department fired the four policemen this week. Yet, while local, state and federal agencies investigate the murder, no arrests have been made as of this morning. Black people and their allies are outraged by a failure of the justice system to press criminal charges against these four policemen, another failure in both a long and short list of police brutality against people of color – particularly black males – with no end in sight.
I am angry, but my anger is unlike the anger of our black citizens who must couple their anger with fear for their lives. As commentator Joy Reid said this morning, “Every black person in America now considers themselves to be hunted.”
As for the uprisings in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area this week, I rely on the words of Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who said a riot is the language of the unheard. Point taken. We must do better.
Finally, heed these words from Dr. King that hit home to me today as clearly as the daily death number updates from the Covid-19 pandemic:
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
We must do better.
Stay safe, stay sane and stay tuned.