There was a widely reported murder in Minneapolis from May 25th. I think many of us have seen the video. An officer kneeling on the neck of a black man on the street. It looked casual, almost, as he had his hand in his pocket and another officer stood just a couple of feet away, and two more officers were right there as well. Sick. Sick in every way.
We all know that those officers are not representative of every cop out there. I know a few officers, and they are good cops. They work, they have fears and worries on the job. Getting home after a shift is not guaranteed, and they know that risk. But they also know that cops like the ones in the video exist. The ones who have an ego a little too big, a power thing that makes them operate on a different level. These actions are bringing the focus on that type of cop, and it should. These aren’t the ones working for us. They exist, and we need to know that. I don’t know what you do about it, because until that video hits the mainstream, there is a lot we don’t see.
Then man, George Floyd, had his face knelt into the ground for more than 7 minutes, maybe up to 9 minutes according to some reports. He is heard pleading, that he can’t breathe. Imagine that. 7-9 minutes, with a man’s knee on your neck. You are in handcuffs, and right behind the tire of a vehicle, face on the asphalt. I can’t even fathom what a minute of that would feel like, let alone 7+ minutes. The extended video shows he wasn’t resisting like the report read. He seemed compliant enough from what I saw. So how did it come to that? The answers aren’t going to come to us quickly, I am sure. But the answer that a man is dead at the hands of those 4 officers is pretty apparent.
Protests. When something like this crime gets as much attention as this has, there are going to be protests. Heated, I am sure, and they should be, because if this doesn’t upset you, there is a problem. But it’s turned ugly up in the Twin Cities now. Riots, looting, burning buildings. Ugly. It’s taking the focus off the topic. It’s turning the public eye away from what happened. It’s still there, it didn’t go away, but it is easy to turn your attention to the police precinct in flames instead of paying attention to the quest for justice. That can be very much by design, but try to stay focused, there is more that needs to happen.
I have seen some posts that some of my friends have shared. My friends that are black, specifically. I try not to be the person that says “But I have black friends!!” But I do, but to me they are just my friends. That isn’t the focus here either though, but their words are important. They have tried to convey what these kind of events are to them. How it makes them feel, as a person of color who is trying to come to terms with another crime committed against their particular race. And there words hit me, as is their intention. I am a middle aged white woman. How can I possibly understand what they feel, particularly the men? If I do not focus on their words, I cannot know what they feel. I won’t feel it the same, their fears, their hopes for changes that don’t come. At the end of a day, if they got through it without incident, it is a victory, but it doesn’t feel that way because they have to face it again tomorrow. My life isn’t like that. It won’t be because I don’t see the world through the lens they do, because I don’t have to. It’s 2020 and a black person still has to face the idea that if they cross paths with one person who sees them only as a color, their situation can turn very quickly into something bad. They have to keep their focus. I hate that about our society.
I have watched some of the news about the looting, the burning buildings, the losses in the Twin Cities. I have family that lives there, so I worry about how this affects them. It’s an ugly spotlight to have on your city. But focusing only on that diminishes what happened while an officer choked the life out of a man with his knee on his neck with his hand in his pocket. Keep that image in your head, as ugly as it is. Because anything that is damaged, stolen or burnt to the ground stems from that image. Focus on that, and demand justice for that man, asking to breathe. Stay focused that justice can happen, because every single act that happened since that video was released is taking focus off of that crime, that life stolen. George Floyd’s life mattered. Stay focused on that.