Yesterday was a brutal day to get through. Personally, I don’t necessarily get too emotional when these things occur. But this one will sting for a while. As if dealing with the girl who cried black guy wasn’t enough, the community was dealt a bigger blow when we witnessed the video of George Floyd. He was an African American man who was handcuffed by police. In the video, we could barely see Floyd’s face because an officer was kneeling on his neck. His knee was literally pressed on his neck while his face was planted into the concrete. All while three other cowardly officers sat there and watched. You can hear George Floyd pleading with the officer multiple times in the video. “My stomach hurts.” “My neck hurts.” “I can’t breathe.” Despite his cries, the officer continued to kneel on his neck and George Floyd sadly died.
“I can’t breathe” strikes a chord with most of black America. We’re all too familiar with the Eric Garner case. Garner was placed in a choke hold by an NYPD officer. He too expressed that he couldn’t breathe but was ignored. He later died. To make this egregious matter worse, it took years before the officer responsible was fired. One would think that although the Garner situation happened in New York, police departments across the country would learn from that. But why would they? They have no incentive to. The threat of being filmed hasn’t even stopped these tragedies. They don’t care because government on any level has yet to actually try to reform the police department. Not to mention the struggle of dealing with police unions. Until there is a genuine effort to overcome these hurdles, we’ll continue to see people who look like us suffer on camera with no real repercussions.
To the Minnesota Mayor’s credit, he took swift action and fired all four officers. However, that isn’t enough. An investigation needs to happen and all four officers need to be charged with murder. The officer who drove his knee down on George Floyd’s neck despite hearing his agony has no excuse. He was a terrible cop who should never be cop again. As far as the other three officers and who just sat and watched, they need to be charged as well. They’re either cowards or are just as terrible as the other officer. Either way, they don’t deserve to be cops either.
What’s even more traumatizing for African Americans who deal with mediocre police is the fact that they are often reinstated. In Minnesota for example, the police union appoints lawyers who can decide to reinstate officers after the arbitration period. This serves as one of the principal failures of police departments nationwide. No matter how awful an officer is, these police unions would rather protect them than be accountable. They’re too focused on ensuring their brass always looks good. Whether it’s harassment or death, police unions always find a way to postpone any true justice. In many cases, a cop will get fired from one department, move to another city and then get hired as a cop there. There are more good cops than bad cops. However, there are way more mediocre cops than good cops and that’s where the problem lies. I’m not one of these people who think police should be abolished. I think every police department in this country needs an overhaul.
When watching the George Floyd video, I’m reminded of Colin Kaepernick. A man who was persecuted for choosing to peacefully protest by kneeling during the national anthem. Colin Kaepernick was protesting police brutality and systematic racism in this country. Yet the narrative became he was disrespecting the troops. It’s moments like this that are steady reminders to why we kneeled. Why we rallied around Kaepernick and while many of us still do so. We are often told police brutality isn’t a big issue. Yet time and time again, we watch people who look like us suffer. We suffer in the shadows, on camera and everywhere else you can imagine. The issue with police departments have long been an issue. Black people shouldn’t have to live with the consequences while we hope and pray police departments get their act together. Even during a pandemic, police still find ample time to shock the system of our culture. When it comes to policing and the black community it’s going to take a full effort. I wish I could say we didn’t have to reach out to the other side to resolve this issue but we do. That can’t happen until the other side genuinely comes to the table. But until that day comes, let’s do what they’ve been trying to do to us. Let’s keep stepping on they necks my people.