Mahmudul Hoque Moni
Amid the most deadly pandemic for the last few days, many cities across the United States have been experiencing severe protests over the death of George Floyd. Protesters claim that the incident was an act of killing and the policeman who was seen inhumanly kneeling him is to be held responsible and should be punished accordingly. However, these protests have brought lights on the movement of Black Lives Matter.
On the 25th of May 2020, Derek Chauvin, a white police officer suspected Mr Floyd of passing a fake twenty-dollar bill. A video shows that Minneapolis resident unarmed George Floyd was pinned face down on the ground in handcuffs and was asking for help saying, ‘I can’t breathe’. Floyd eventually becomes unresponsive, but the officer continues to hold his knee to the man’s neck until an ambulance arrives. After being taken to the Hennepin County Medical Center, Mr Floyd breathed his last, and the next day the Minneapolis Police Department sends a press release on George Floyd’s death, calling it a “medical incident.”
Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer has been arrested.
What we know about these two persons
46-year old George Perry Floyd was an African American citizen who was born in North Carolina and lived in Houston, Texas. He moved to Minneapolis after being released from prison and was known as a “gentle giant” who was trying to turn his life around. Mr Floyd was the father of a six-year-old daughter who lives in Houston with her mother, Roxie Washington.
44-year old Derek Michael Chauvin opened during his 19-year career fire on two people during and eighteen conduct complaints were filed against him, two of which resulted in reprimands. Despite his involvements in shooting and deaths, Mr Chauvin was recognized with awards including a medal of valor in 2008.
Black Lives Matter: A movement against systematic suppression
The movement – Black Lives Matter – started in 2013 as a hashtag (#BlackLivesMatter) on social media following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of African American teen Trayvon Martin in February 2012. As the website states, the mission of the movement is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. The movement drawing attention and actions from across the globe for a world where black lives are no longer systematically targeted for demise. The ongoing protests across the USA are the expressions of this call for social justice and the dignity of human beings. The ‘killing’ of Mr Floyd happened not only because of what the police officer did but also because of the systematic dishonour and oppression that white nationalism operates with the structural public settings within the largest economy of the world.
What we can learn
Two quotes of Martin Luther King (Jr) are relevant here – ‘A riot is the language of the unheard’, and ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’. From the period of American civil war to today, black Americans have been subjected to systematic and structural attacks, abuse, and violence. No matter how economically develop we become, unless society does not recognize all its members with dignity, care, and equal respect, it cannot be peaceful and just. We need to also identify that such injustice has existed in all societies in some forms or other, and fights against those injustices – in a smaller to bigger scale – persist.
The featured image is taken from the website of the Black Lives Matter movement.Thanks for reading.