“Hating people because of their colour is wrong. And it doesn’t matter which colour does the hating. It’s just plain wrong.” – Muhammad Ali
The death of a 46-year-old man named George Floyd, outside a shop in Minneapolis, Minnesota on the 25th of May, 2020 has the world shaken in horror and revolt.
BBC unfolds this event as a series of incidents that start from George’s visit to Cup Foods, a grocery store in Minneapolis to buy a packet of cigarettes. The issue had begun when a report of a fake $20 (£16.20) bill had been made to 911 by a store employee, adding that George would not return the packet of cigarettes. George had also been accused of being ‘drunk’ and ‘uncontrollable’ according to the reports made by the employee. Two officers had arrived shortly after the call to the corner where George was seated with two other people. According to the BBC reports, on the arrival, one of the officers named Thomas Lane had pulled out his gun and ordered George to show his hands to be cuffed, although still proper accounts have not been provided for the necessity of drawing the gun out at that moment.
A few minutes after being cuffed and explained his reason for being arrested as counterfeit of the bill at Cup Foods, reports say that George “stiffened up, fell to the ground, and told the officers he was claustrophobic”.
Later, the officers along with Derek Chauvin, the officer who had arrived at the spot after George had been cuffed, had tried to put him in the car.
During this attempt, is when it is said that Mr. Chauvin, had pulled George out of the passenger side, causing him to fall to the ground face down, handcuffed.
This is when witnesses had started to film George, who appeared to be in a distressed state as shown in the video footage that is circulating the internet.
Continuing his agitation, George had been restrained by the officers, while Mr. Chauvin had placed his left knee between his head and neck.
On this, George who was already claustrophobic had started to plead for life, pronouncing “I can’t breathe,” “please, please, please”.
After eight minutes and 46 seconds of suffocation under Mr. Chauvin’s knee, George had become unresponsive after which the onlookers had insisted a pulse check. On this, JA Kueng, one of the officers had responded “couldn’t find one” after checking George’s right wrist. A few moments after that, when Mr. Chauvin removed his knee from George’s neck, he had been rolled on to a gurney and taken to the Hennepin County Medical Center in an ambulance from where an hour later, he was pronounced to be dead.
As terrifying as it may sound, George Floyd’s last words begging for life, saying he cannot breathe and pleading to be let free, spread wide on the internet, putting the entire world in distress and frustration creating rebels and protestors from many parts of the USA and other parts of the world demanding for justice, stressing the importance of how much Black Lives Matter.
George Floyd is not the first innocent black life to have been lost and he cannot be the only one that the world must pay attention to in fighting for justice. The list of black lives lost starting from Michael Dean to Shukri Abdi to George Floyd is long and may still lengthen, unfortunately, if the prevailing ignorance, neutrality in demanding justice, and raging extremist views that promote racism and colourism continues.
While there are activists even during the pandemic today on the ground fighting and protesting for justice putting their lives and future at risk, there are other measures as a whole we can take to support them and contribute in making the world a better place where like Martin Luther King Jr said, “… little black boys and girls will be holding hands with little white boys and girls.”
Out of such measures, educating oneself by reading, watching documentaries, and joining anti-racist educational programs to learn the facts of how deeply racism permeates all facets of the world today are of vitality because the issue of racism and colourism does not end with America or the U.K but it is a virus that is slowly or invisibly yet rapidly destroying the world’s peace gradually today.