“I CAN’T BREATHE”, after the death of George Floyd, a 46-year old black man, has now become a rallying cry among protestors all over the country.
Mr. Floyd, a Minnesota resident, was accused of allegedly using a counterfeit $20 note at a local retail shop. During his arrest, which according to passers-by he did not resist, a white police officer went on to restrain Floyd, and kneeled on his neck for at least 8 minutes and 46 seconds despite him gasping for breath and repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe”. The officer remained in that position even after Floyd became unconscious. The three other police officers who participated in the arrest and based on available videos did nothing to intervene during Mr. Floyd’s last desperate pleas for help. His unresponsive body was then taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Deeply ingrained and long-standing divisions in the society have been manifested again by George Floyd’s Death. It has escalated the hatred and xenophobia persisting within the world during the time of pandemic with the racial stereotyping and fear, bigotry and acts of violence across the nation.
The road to Floyd’s murder has been littered by incidences of violence against African Americans, and it has also been compared to the death of Eric Garner in 2014.
SIMILAR INCIDENTS OF RACISM IN the USA
Eric Garner, a 43-year-old father, was confronted by police officers on a street corner in Staten Island, New York, for allegedly selling untaxed loose cigarettes. When Garner pulled away from an officer, he was allegedly placed in a chokehold by a police officer. After being lowered to the ground, Garner was restrained by several officers. In a video taken by a bystander at the scene, Garner could be heard telling officers, “I can’t breathe” 11 times. NYPD officers later called an ambulance for Garner after noticing his breathing difficulty, but additional video showed that he was not given oxygen for several minutes after the paramedics arrived. Garner was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the hospital.
There have been many incidents of discrimination against Black People but it was the shooting of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African American high-school student in Sanford, Florida on February 26, 2012 that made people come out of their bubble and raise voice against escalating racial discrimination.
George Zimmerman, a civilian, who fatally shot Martin, claimed he had shot Trayvon in self-defense, was acquitted a year later. It was Zimmerman’s acquittal that gave rise to a hashtag and a movement #BLACKLIVESMATTER.
BLACK LIVES MATTERS
#BlackLivesMatter, started in 2013 by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, began trending on social media as a movement against systemic violence against the African Americans community. It expanded across the US. A whole community sprung up in support of the movement and people involved in the moment. But it received national fame after the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown in 2014 – the latter also being a case of a fatal police shooting.
It has now grown into a global network and invites public interest internationally.
The difference that Floyd’s helpless pleading death has made is visibly depicted in the participants during the protests. Floyd’s death has left a drastic, shivering impact on people irrespective of their race to question the so-called embedded “democracy” of their country.
Martin Luther King Jr, once spoke stirringly of their aim to “achieve a society that can live with its conscience” because, he believed, “the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.” Today, as protestors across American cities march in protest over Floyd’s death, they are willing to bend the arc towards justice.
Source of Information:
-Bloody Sunday Article. (March, 1965)