It’s happened again.
Another unarmed black individual was murdered by a police officer.
On Monday May 25th, the Minnesota Police Department responded to a call from a shopkeeper about someone trying to pass a potentially counterfeit bill. His name was George Floyd and it has now come out that the bill was not counterfeit. Instead of acting civil and taking him straight to the police station, Derek Chauvin, proceeded to handcuff Floyd and then put him on the ground and held down his neck with his knee. Floyd pleaded multiple times with Chauvin to let him stand up because he couldn’t breathe. Derek Chauvin and his three fellow officers ignored his cries for help and ultimately killed George Floyd through suffocation.
The gory details aren’t the important part. The important part is that he was unarmed and denied basic human rights. No matter how you slice it Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd.
Floyd’s death occurred right in the middle of the already growing racial tension in America. On May 5th the video of Gregory McMichael and his son Travis McMichael killing Ahmaud Arbery hit the internet causing global outrage at the actions of the murderers and the neglect of the Glynn County police department and district attorney’s office for ignoring evidence of his murder. Then, on May 13th it was reported that 26 year old Breonna Taylor was wrongly murdered by the police when they entered the wrong home while trying to make an arrest.
Three wrongful deaths of black people, that we know of, have come to our attention this month and it feels like a never ending cycle. It has become so normal to see another black person murdered that most of us have numbed ourselves to the brutality.
Many FAU students took to social media to express their anger and frustration about yet another senseless killing at the hands of the police. Minorities Moving Forward (MMF), a new organization at Florida Atlantic University said, “From a college student perspective, it can be scary to watch people our age being killed by police officers for no reason. A lot of college students are away from homes so these killings can make students more on edge as the victims were doing daily activities.”
Our grandparents tell us stories from their childhood and the fight for civil rights, we’ve been listening to songs about police brutality and oppression from Tupac, N.W.A., J. Cole, and Childish Gambino, we’ve watched movies like “The Hate U Give”, “Detroit”, and “Just Mercy”, we’ve read books like “The Help”, “12 Years a Slave, and “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry” yet history continues to repeat itself. We keep asking when will this end? We keep trying peaceful protests and marches but is it working? Has it gotten us anywhere?
We started this month out with peaceful marches and runs for Ahmaud Arbery. Now, we are ending the month with peaceful protest and a new strategy: aggressive riots. The city of Minneapolis erupted with, what started as, peaceful protest but later turned more violent with looting and burning of buildings on May 27th.
“We believe that both forms of protesting are useful as they each have different outcomes and try to go against African American inequality,” said MMF.
Since Monday, this movement has spread across the nation hitting all of the major cities New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Miami, Salt Lake City, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, etc. These protests have been ethnically diverse and ranged from young to old.
So where are we at this moment? At the time of this article’s publishing Dereck Chauvin has been charged with 3rd degree murder and his bail has been set at $500,000. That in itself is reason to keep protesting. 3rd degree murder are murders that are classified as accidental. For those of you who have seen the video, it is clear that this murder was no accident. At this time Chauvin’s three accomplices have not been charged. At this time people are still protesting in the major cities and demanding change. President Trump has not offered any words of support nor has he said anything about the officers who murdered George Floyd. The only thing he has said has been in the form of a tweet where he referred to black people as “thugs” and said “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”, a phrase commonly used by a racist Miami police chief from the 1960’s.
“For Trump to refer to African Americans as thugs create a bad image for those advocating for justice. Also with him threatening civilians with shooting makes it seems as though he’s more worried about bigger corporations than the problems African Americans are protesting for,” said MMF.
As someone who was 11 years old when Trayvon Martin was racially profiled and murdered by George Zimmerman that was my first exposure to the hate that black people get for simply being black. I was confused and sad and there wasn’t much I could do. Now, 8 years later the same things are happening but this one feels different. I can now actively influence the community and advocate for change. I can vote, I can donate, I can sign petitions, I can educate my peers, and I can protest.
As college students, we are the future leaders. Future lawyers, doctors, social workers, journalists, police officers ,etc. But we are about to take on a world that hates us and is constantly killing us so we must demand change.
While I am unsure whether or not George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery will receive justice and I am unsure whether or not any change within the police force will change, I am sure that this generation will be the one to demand change and if nothing else, hold these racist and white supremacist figures accountable for their actions.
Below are some resources for you to help. Please remember that you do not need to be on the frontlines of the protest to make a difference, there are countless other ways to do it right from your phone. For those of you who do take part in these protests please stay safe.