George Floyd’s Death Emphasizes the Need for Change in America’s Mindset

Opinion

Protestors+gather+to+protest+the+death+of+George+Floyd+at+the+hands+of+Derek+Chauvin%2C+a+cop.+His+death+sparked+a+series+of+protests+against+the+ongoing+issue+of+police+brutality+and+racism.

Photo By Paul Becker

Protestors gather to protest the death of George Floyd at the hands of Derek Chauvin, a cop. His death sparked a series of protests against the ongoing issue of police brutality and racism.

By Amoli Agarwal, Reporter

George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man in Minneapolis, Minnesota, died on Monday, May 25 shortly after being detained and arrested for using a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes. While this alleged forgery could have resulted in a few years of jail time and a fine, it certainly did not call for slow murder at the hands of the police. Former officer Derek Chauvin handcuffed Floyd and pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes, ignoring the weak pleas of Floyd crying for help and the indignant screams of bystanders asking Chauvin to show mercy. 

Chauvin was originally charged with third-degree murder, due to the fact that no one could prove he intended to kill. The officers involved with the arrest were fired from the police department, and after a series of protests and riots, Chauvin’s charge has been upgraded to second-degree murder. He is currently facing a maximum of 40 years of imprisonment. Floyd’s preliminary autopsy report stated that he died because of the combined effects of his underlying health conditions and the way he was held down. However, when Floyd’s family ordered a private autopsy later on, it revealed that his death was directly due to homicide by asphyxiation, raising the charges against Chauvin. The other three officers have been accused of aiding and abetting murder. 

Floyd’s death was horrible, unnecessary, and one of the many instances where an African American man is unjustly killed because of hate and prejudice.

It is saddening that even though it has been over 50 years since the Civil Rights Movement ended, unacceptable racism still haunts our society today.”

It is essential to put an end to police brutality and other intolerable bigotry. The government must take action to prevent further incidents like Floyd’s death from happening.

Floyd was just one of the African Americans who recently suffered the effects of undeserved discrimination. New Yorker Christian Cooper politely asked a white woman to put her dog on a leash in Central Park. She refused, becoming hysterical and eventually calling the police to say there was an African American man threatening her life. The woman in question explicitly lied, using the fact that she was white as a weapon against Cooper. The woman’s accusation outlines the attitude of many white supremacists who think the rules do not apply to them. It is fortunate that Cooper videotaped the entire incident, freeing him from all charges. Otherwise, yet another innocent man may have been added to the long list of African Americans unfairly condemned to a terrible fate. 

Floyd’s death has sparked protests all over the nation, many even turning into riots. Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, and New York City have all been centers for harsher protests. President Donald Trump ordered for soldiers to be posted in Minneapolis and Atlanta, while California moved troops into Los Angeles. The video capturing the police brutality Floyd received ignited the fury of thousands of African Americans who have suffered from inequality and discrimination. However, many protesters do not seek violence—rather, they feel anguished and frustrated because they want to see a change. The extreme protests across the United States send a clear message to the government: racism needs to stop.

Many dissidents have been arrested in New York, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles. Seven people were shot at a gathering in Louisville, Kentucky, protesting the death of Breonna Taylor, an innocent African American woman who was shot and killed by the police in her own apartment. However, the demonstrations are far from over. More and more people of all races are joining the cause, calling for justice and equality. Protests have permeated beyond the U.S. to the United Kingdom, Germany, and Canada. A rally was held outside the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, and thousands of Londeners congregated in Trafalgar Square chanting Floyd’s name. 

To put an end to the violence, the government should seriously address the issue of African Americans being treated unfairly, starting with improving the policing system. Although 17 complaints have been filed in the past against Chauvin for various offenses, he was not disciplined or given any punishment from the police department. This is because of the laws and organizations put in place to protect police officers, including police labor unions. Unions defend officers from being prosecuted for their actions and provide them with job security, explaining that policemen have extremely difficult jobs. Their argument is that every decision is made in a split second, and those decisions cannot be doubted, which makes it difficult for a policeman to receive criminal charges. If Chauvin was appropriately disciplined for previous complaints, he may have been fired from the department, and Floyd may not have died. The role of police unions and other organizations safeguarding law enforcement officers from blame for their atrocious actions should be reexamined in order to prevent any more needless deaths at the hands of racism.

However, the government has not attempted to find a solution to the bigotry seen in Floyd’s death, instead prioritizing subduing and dispersing protests by calling in the National Guard and authorizing them to shoot at demonstrators. In spite of their efforts, the government’s actions are only enraging protesters, resulting in more forceful and intense demonstrations across the U.S. 

Solving the issue of racism will be an arduous task. Although it may prove impossible to completely eradicate, the government must take steps to promote egalitarianism and terminate discriminatory practices. Racism is ingrained in the history of the United States, which is why it is important that society put all their efforts into eliminating bias and prejudice against African Americans. No one should be a second-class citizen, and the stories of George Floyd, Christian Cooper, Breonna Taylor, and countless other African Americans wrongfully accused should never be forgotten.