A video of a black man in the US city, Minneapolis, being suffocated to death by police officers has once again brought the issue of race-related police brutality to the fore and has sparked massive outrage and a viral social media backlash.
WARNING: The following article contains graphic content, involving explicit violence and may be disturbing for sensitive audiences.
George Floyd was an unarmed, 46-year-old black man that fitted the description of a criminal that was using counterfeit money in the area and was taken into police custody after being arrested while standing outside of his car. The police apprehended him and pinned him to the ground with his knee pressing Floyd’s neck into the ground.
Floyd’s companions recorded the incident, while Floyd can be heard pleading with the officer to release his grip, saying “I cannot breathe”. After the officer tells Floyd to “relax”, he repeats, “I can’t breathe. Please, the knee in my neck.” Floyd’s companions recording the incident are also heard yelling pleas at the policemen, “He’s not fucking moving moving,” and “Get off of his fucking neck.” as Floyd fell unconscious.
You can see more in the video below:
Source: Al Jazerea
It is truly harrowing footage to watch and, after the four policemen involved were fired, there have been calls to charge them with murder. The only relatable images I can compare it to is the racial abuse of black South Africans of the Apartheid era South African Police (SAP), where countless South Africans were beaten and shot to death, culminating in the 1976 Soweto Uprising, where 176 students were shot to death (although some reported figures deem that number to be as high as 700).
“Four responding MPD officers involved in the death of George Floyd have been terminated. This is the right call,” said Minneapolis Mayor, Jacob Frey, in a tweet.
Police brutality has become an increasingly problematic and controversial issue in the United States, with 228 civilians having been shot, 31 of whom were Black, as of March 30, 2020, according to Statista, compared to 966 fatal shootings in 2018 and 1,004 in 2019.
Among the most controversial incidents involved Michael Brown’s killing in 2014, which sparked a series of protests by professional athletes, the most prominent being NFL franchise, San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Coolin Kapernick, who famously knelt during the national anthem in 2016.
Floyd’s death has been, by no means an isolated incident with regards to the specific targeting of black Americans, which has lead to the formation of the #BlackLivesMatter movement that directly tackles systematic racial oppression in the United States, which stretches back to the earliest years after the country’s formation, where slavery was still a legal practice.