While many things have been put on pause in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, cops murdering Black people is not one of them. Yesterday in Minneapolis is the latest example, when white MPD officer Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck for over five minutes while Floyd begged Chauvin that he couldn’t breathe and lost consciousness. He later died. According to Minneapolis Star Tribune writer Libor Jany, Chauvin has previously been part of at least three officer-involved shootings during his career, as well.
I will not embed the video, but it can be viewed at the link here (for those not wishing to see it, the link does not have the video on auto-play or even still images):
“We all watched the horrific death of George Floyd on video as witnesses begged the police officer to take him to the police car and get off his neck,” read the statement from attorney Benjamin Crump, who also represents the families of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, two African-Americans killed in recent high-profile incidents. “This abusive, excessive and inhumane use of force cost the life of a man who was being detained by the police for questioning about a nonviolent charge.”
Officials have not publicly named the officer in question, but two sources familiar with the investigation identified him as Derek Chauvin.
The racially charged incident threatened to reignite tensions between police and minority communities that reached a boiling point in 2015 after the fatal shooting of Jamar Clark and a weekslong protest outside a nearby police station.
In an early morning news conference at City Hall, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said he asked for the federal probe after watching the video from a bystander and receiving “additional information” about the incident involving several officers, who have since been relieved of duty.
“There was additional information that I had received that quite frankly, from community sources, that just provided more context than I had preliminarily,” he said, without elaborating the nature or source of the information.
Mayor Jacob Frey said at the same news conference it was clear from the video that race played a part in the encounter.
“Being black in America should not be a death sentence,” said Frey. “For five minutes, we watched a white officer press his knee into a black man’s neck. Five minutes. When year hear someone calling for help, you’re supposed to help. This officer failed in the most basic, human sense. What happened on Chicago and 38th last night is awful. It was traumatic. It serves as a reminder of how far we have to go.”
He continued, visibly shaken: “Whatever the investigation reveals, it does not change the simple truth, he should still be with us this morning.”
I recommend that white members of the LGM community interested in being allies familiarize themselves with the resources at the website Brittany Packnett Cunningham links to in her tweet below. (Or access it directly here.) It is not enough to simply bemoan these atrocities when and where they hit your newsfeed.
Also, to call back to Paul’s post from last night, Ibram Kendi is, per usual, spot-on: