The law was not on George Floyd’s side; it was on his neck. Then Officer Derek Chauvin put his knee on Floyd’s neck and applied deadly pressure while innocent bystanders pleaded with him to stop. Yesterday was the first day of Chauvin’s trial and I watched George Floyd die all over again. I was shocked all over again, disgusted, angry, sad all over again. I screamed and cried again.
It really did happen. The day was May 25, 2020. Frankly, I couldn’t have imagined this level of callousness, detachment. Chauvin put his knee on George Floyd’s neck and felt no pressure. Protected by his fellow officers, who provided cover for him and no intervention for Floyd, Chauvin was given the time to murder him. And Chauvin took his sweet time.
It was real and not a nightmare worse than I could ever imagine. Floyd died right before our eyes; his suffering was recorded live. Camera phones and surveillance cameras, so many eyes were on Floyd and yet, Chauvin did not see him. Chauvin did not hear Floyd pleading for his life, calling out for his mother, detailing the symptoms of his body shutting down.
I had seen enough. Put my phone in my back pocket and picked up a sign. Feet marching up and down city streets, it made me feel closer to George.
The revolution that followed was televised, with protests around the world. Brother Floyd had been kept down too long. African American people, other marginalized and minoritized communities have been kept down too long. So last summer, we gathered to push back on hundreds of years of injustice and inequality, fences, barricades, heavy- handed police officers and military personnel. No justice; no peace! We would not go away quietly.
Say his name! George Floyd! Say his name! George Floyd! We would say his name until you heard him. Because those who answered the call to serve and protect him did not.
Blame what happened to Floyd on bad policing or laws poorly enforced but it goes much deeper than that. Because what law governed Chauvin’s body to sit on another human being, to suffocate him, to murder him without regard? What law made Chauvin think that it was acceptable to pin a man down, to not offer aid or comfort— even after first responders had arrived? What law told him that it was good police work to ignore the reports of witnesses watching him murder Floyd?
Maybe it was past criminal cases and the jurors whose I’s have it and have acquitted officer after officer of police misconduct and murder. Because their lives were “in danger.” But what about Floyd’s life? Was it not in danger? Did he not tell us so?
And will the jury hear Floyd during the trial or will they keep their knee on his neck and ignore the innocent bystanders that gather around television screens and stare at phones to ensure that he gets justice.