This afternoon former police officer Derek Chauvin received his sentence for the murder of George Floyd.
Maybe it was from watching western’s, or maybe it was something seen on all the shows featuring law enforcement that flood television viewing, or maybe it was an MMA move he saw? However, he performed and improvised the move, the chief of police, training staff and those from Minneapolis Police department (MPD) hierarchy have vehemently testified it was not in policy. The “knee-move” that is.
Being a police officer is tough. It is fraught with all types of life decisions that officers must make. Confronting and apprehending individuals is part of their job but the reality is some can irritate the officer by their behavior. Or, another way to look at it is some just “get in the officer’s goat or their craw.” The result can be retaliation by the officer and as in the case of George Floyd, death. After all, they too are humans and just trying to do their job.
Unfortunately that is not the issue in this trial. Floyd’s background is not the issue, although some will attempt to massage it into the case as some sort of justification or explanation of Chauvin’s actions.
It is hard to explain why Chauvin used his “knee-move” on Floyd’s neck? Floyd and bystanders pleaded for him to remove it so that he could breathe. No doubt from the time officers arrived on the call and confronted Floyd it took time from exiting his car to the MPD cruiser, then to the front of the SUV where Chauvin’s knee went into action. Chauvin felt he had enough and the motion was set for him to teach Floyd a lesson. To him, it appeared he did not care who was watching him or what MPD policy was. He had a special tactic and felt it was the perfect time to execute the move. Now whether he meant to kill Floyd is another issue but the facts are clear, he kept his knee on the neck position much longer than necessary.
Other’s will have their own explanation but from what has been presented it is clear George Floyd got in Derek Chauvin’s goat or craw and he decided the time was right to teach him a lesson. The question remains where in his nineteen years on the force did he learn the move?
Stevie Wonder & Hurricane Dave
Shortly after George Floyd was murdered and folk took to the streets many used the airwaves to voice their response.
One leader, you will recognize when you hear the song spoke poignantly about how African-Americans have historically dealt with the consequences of having a “knee on their neck.”
Through Hurricane Dave’s genius and the gift of Stevie Wonder who owns KJLH (Kindness, Joy Love & Happiness) radio station in Los Angeles (102.3FM), part of the leader’s speech “I can’t breathe” is woven into Wonder’s “Vision” song which is from his 1973 Innervisions album.
If the song does not load – try this link
[Los Angeles, CA – Day 18] It has been eighteen days since George Floyd was murdered. Depending on one’s perspective or life’s experiences, sides have been drawn. Just about everyone agrees ex-officer Chauvin as well as the other three arresting ex-officers used excessive and unnecessary force.
The Floyd incident has morphed from a moment to a movement based on what we are witnessing in cities around the globe. As expected, there are those who proclaim the reaction is over-blown. They go further to suggest it is some type of Democratic funded operation to smear our system. I guess they feel because Floyd was African-American and the majority of them vote in favor of Democratic candidates, surely the party must be behind their antics? They quietly dismiss the notion that deciding which political party to support boils down to which one MOSTLY supports your issues? It appears to be a sound-bite that some accept based on which media they consume?
One side sees a need for justice. The other side sees a need to stop disrespecting civility. Another critical analysis those in opposition can’t explain, as history may be the final arbiter is why folk from various ethnicities, age groups and other demographics have joined the movement? To further justify their belief the reaction is fueled by a political party, they voice opposition via social media suggesting those who support the reaction to Floyd are ill-informed or have they been induced into some cult?
Most have forgotten the Black Lives Matter has been around. Just in 2016, through media it was vilified as a revolutionary group you should be scared to associate with. That’s why this time is different. As mentioned, folk from all walks of life have changed their social consciousness and now proudly proclaim the Black Lives Matter moniker.
There is one more critical point about protesting which those in opposition somehow find difficult to accept or understand. Protesting is a public gesture to create awareness of the issue. Following must be a series of actions which make the reason for protesting a serious action. As an example most people never heard or knew of Emmett Till, Jimmie Lee Jackson or more contemporary examples such as Alton Sterling, Trayvon Martin, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner or even George Floyd. It was the type of tragic death they suffered which made them household names. Therein lays a prime reason for the public outrage we are experiencing. It is bigger than any specific named person. It has to do with a system that minimizes their life merely because they were black. It has very little to do with their past as a seed of racism makes it okay to marginalize those who are deemed less than. Unfortunately, many buy into this paradigm while defining themselves as wholesome american folk.
Protest is a basic right. How long people take to the streets is anybody’s guess? What we are hearing by documenting daily events is it will continue until November 3rd! While Black Lives Matter is the main organization leading the protest, many splinter groups have joined and that has helped fuel the energy to sustain the reaction.
Revolutionary Communist Party known as RevCom was one group which led the Los Angeles Protest – Day 18. Just like when Black Lives Matter hit the scene, their name probably scares the hell out of people. The long and short, they are a social-action group. One of their main tenets is trying to unite “Brown & Black.” Speakers did a very good job in communicating how racism has been used to divide the groups. Unfortunately many in the affected groups have bought into the notion of distrusting the other. As an example one of the passionate Latina leaders expressed how many from Mexico and other Latin American countries have been raised to feel African-Americans are lazy, untrustworthy, criminal and otherwise the type of people you need to stay away from.
Like many rallies, the participation builds as it weaves through the streets to their final destination. They started across the street from City Hall, facing Grant Park. Headed south on Spring street, the spirited group marched to 7th Street and headed west until they reached Mac Arthur Park which is several miles away in the Westlake community. There were no incidents or negative reaction. As a matter of fact, many who were driving stopped their cars to show support. A few actually joined the marchers. Folk came out of restaurants and bars to show support. The Los Angeles Police picked up the rear to undergird the marchers progress as they went through the streets.
[Los Angeles, CA – Day 9] Activism is nothing new to me, at least that’s what I want to think! Today marked the 9th day since the murder of George Floyd and after jockeying my schedule I ran out of excuses of why I could not be on hand to document the important rally scheduled at 3pm..
You’ve all seen the protest which followed ex-policeman Chauvin pulling a rare move most of us haven’t seen – putting his knee of the neck of George Floyd, while he had been restrained and in hand-cuffs. The cous de gras was Chauvin’s bold move to comfortable place his hand in his pocket while cutting off Floyd’s air flow. Most of you saw what we all saw and perhaps that inspired you to raise your voice and join the movement?
I was trying to remember when was the last time I saw a reaction of this magnitude? I go back to 2000 when I was fortunate to travel to Chiapas, Mexico to get a first-hand glimpse of supporters of Subcomandante Marcos and the Zapatista movement. The revolutionaries rose up against the government while loudly proclaiming – BASTA!!!!!!
The reaction from Floyd’s murder seems a bit different. We’ve heard that refrain from members of the media who have been reporting the events One of the major protests today centered at the Hall of Justice (County of Los Angeles) at the steps of District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s office. As I was driving to secure a parking spot, I could see a flurry of participants head towards Temple & Broadway. Signs in tote it was quite a sight. I just knew this was different from the many events I have attended/participated in.
The crowd swelled to easily 10,000 plus. The event was well organized and despite the Covid-19 pandemic we are dealing with folk had mask and other protection. Folk were walking the line dispatching out water, squirts of hand-sanitizer, snacks and even first-aid stations so you could maintain your energy. Their focus was maintaining a safe environment to insure the message of change was front & center.
A very interesting dynamic that I witnessed was the demographic of the crowd. I would guestimate the primary ages ranged from 20 – 40. The ethnic composition was what you would expect from Los Angeles. It was exceptionally diverse. The take-away from today’s event as well as those which have taken place since Floyd’s life was cut short is will the energy and commitment get translated into serious civic engagement – VOTING? For all the signs and images of being fed-up, will the people have the courage to leverage their voice and create the change they are seeking?
Above Photo. MINNEAPOLIS , MINNESOTA - MAY 31: The makeshift memorial and mural outside Cup Foods where George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer on Sunday, May 31, 2020 in Minneapolis , Minnesota. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
For enslaved Africans the vestiges of racism and slavery have a ghost-like affect in the United States of America. Like the current Covid-19 pandemic the results can be deadly.
George Floyd will be a martyr for the 2020 rebellions which are sweeping across the nation. Born in Houston Texas, Floyd found Minneapolis as a place to try and live out his dreams.
Many questions have popped up since his murder was shown across media. Minnesota has long prided itself as a state you could enjoy life. All of that sounds good but for the vast majority of African-Americans who like Floyd migrated there, that has not been their reality.
To get a better understanding of why many view the Floyd murder as a symbol resulting from the vestiges of racism and slavery, you’ve got to pause and pay attention to history: current history.
The income gap in Minneapolis between white and black families is the second worse in the country, at $50,000. Judy Woodruff, Executive Producer PBS News Hour
Like so many states, as productive as Minnesota is for some it has a history. For African-American’s that history translates into the same oppressive behavior which led to Floyd being murdered. We are not putting a blanket assessment on the people of Minnesota, especially those in the majority who are white but understanding the history and putting that understanding in a reasonable context might create objectivity when discussing Floyd. No doubt many African-Americans have created upward-mobility but a vast majority live in poverty which can be traced to the systemic social policies which are documented through the United States.
Here are two excellent sources that showcase current disparities in Minnesota and specifically Minneapolis
The segment is called “Roots of Anger” and starts at the 39:40 mark of the video.
The second piece is very interesting and shares how Minnesota became known as the “Jim Crow of the North.” I saw this special screening during the 2020 Pan-African Film Festival and it is riveting.