On May 25th, 2020, in 8 minutes and 46 seconds an unarmed black man was asphyxiated – murdered by the knee of a reckless white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A video shows three officers at one point kneeling on Mr. Floyd. The death of George Floyd has sparked outrage, anger, sadness and pain over the inexcusable mistreatment, discrimination and oppression of black individuals and minorities that still exists today. It is the year 2020 and we a still fighting against systemic oppression and racism.
Racism and discrimination against black individuals is a societal and systemic issue in the United States. But no, this is not just an American issue. Floyd’s murder is not only representative of the struggles, discrimination and racism facing African Americans, but also black individuals and minorities around the world. I sympathize and stand in solidarity with the peaceful protests and demonstrations taking place across the United States. Their fight for criminal justice, equality and human rights should inspire individuals around the world to do the same. Take the time to reflect on discrimination, domination and oppression of Black Americans, Black individuals and minorities throughout history and how the effects and ideologies are still present in society and institutions today. Change starts with ALL of us!
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”Martin Luther King Jr.
I decided to provide some facts pertaining to discrimination and oppression, racism against individuals of colour and police brutality against black individuals in the United States. Of course this is not encompassing all cases, studies and stories but hopefully an informative and useful overview. Below you will also find petitions to sign, and some examples of reputable organizations and causes to donate to.
Popular Vocabulary Surrounding This Issue:
Bias: conscious or unconscious prejudice about an individual or group based on their identity (source: tolerance.org)
Racism: racial bias translated into action (tolerance.org)
Anti-Racism: opposing racism and promoting anti-tolerance
White Privilege: A built in advantage based on the colour of one’s skin – “having greater access to power and resources than people of color [in the same situation] do” (Francis E. Kendall)
Systemic Discrimination: patterns, policies, practices and behaviours imbedded in the structure of an organization which perpetuate mistreatment and disadvantages for radicalized individuals. (source: ohrc)
Structural Racism: the ways in which societies foster [racial] discrimination, via mutually reinforcing [inequitable] systems that in turn reinforce discriminatory beliefs, values, and distribution of resources”
– Z Bailey, N Krieger, M Agenor, J Graves, N Linos, MT Bassett
Structural racism and health inequities in the USA: evidence and interventions
Lancet, 389 (2017), pp. 1453-1463
Studies and Statistics of Police Force and Brutality against Black Individuals in The United States:
Black and Hispanics are 50% more likely to experience a form of non-lethal force in interactions with police – accounting for context and civilian behaviour does not fully explain this disparity.
– Fryer Jr, Roland G (Harvard University) “An empirical analysis of racial differences in police use of force.” Journal of Political Economy 127.3 (2019): 1210-1261.
According to Mappingpoliceviolence.org:
Black people were 24% of those killed by police. BUT only 13% of the population is black
Black people are 3 times more likely to be killed by police than white people
Black people are 1.3 times more likely than white people to be killed be police when unarmed
Yes, the names change, but the color doesn’t – and that is the painful reality of this situation – and it’s not just 30 years. It is this nation’s history of discrimination and racism dating back hundreds of years.New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
March 3rd, 1991 –Rodney King, an African American man was savagely beaten by four Los Angles policemen, three of which were white officers due to a traffic violation. Video captured of the incident sparked outrage across the United States, exemplifying racial profiling, police brutality against African Americans and racial tensions in the United States. The four officers were acquitted sparking riots in Los Angles for five days in 1992.
July 17th, 2014 – Eric Garner, a Black American man was walking down the street in Staten Island, N.Y. when he was approached by two New York Police officers. Garner had a history of selling untaxed cigarettes, but what happened next in this police encounter was uncalled for and extremely unjust. Garner was restrained and put into a chokehold. His dying words were “I can’t breathe”. The same said by George Floyd.
August 9th, 2014 – Michael Brown, a black male was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown allegedly held his arms in the air and asked the officer not to shoot, but the officer did shoot anyway. The white police officer was not indicted BUT the US Justice Department found:
“That nearly 90 percent of documented force used by the Ferguson Police Department was leveled against African Americans. These disparities occur, at least in part, because of unlawful bias and stereotypes that the white police officers had about African Americans. The report also found evidence of substantial racial bias among police officers and the court staff in Ferguson. Police supervisors and leadership did little to ensure that officers act in accordance with law and policy, and rarely responded to citizens’ complaints of officer misconduct. The result is a pattern of stops without reasonable suspicion and arrests without probable cause and use of excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment”
– U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department, (Washington, DC, Government Printing Office, March 4, 2014) as cited in Stokes, L. D., Wilson, Z. R., Jordan, K. A., & Harris, D. M. (2017). Race as an institutional factor in the arrest, and the use of excessive and deadly force against African American males. Endarch: Journal of Black Political Research, 2017(1), 3.
March 18th, 2018 – Stephon Clark, a 28 year old black American man was shot eight times and killed by two police officers in Sacramento California. Police believed an object was aimed at them…but Clark just had his cellphone in his hand. The officers were not charged.
February 23rd, 2020 – Ahmaud Arbery, a 25 year old black American man was fatally shot in Glynn County, Georgia by two white men – a father and son, while going for a jog. Mr. Arbery was unarmed.
May 25th, 2020 – George Floyd
Note: Keep in mind there are more individuals on this list -some made the news, and some did not.
Petitions – George Floyd, Police Brutality and Political Injustice:
Justice for George Floyd (The most signed petition in history) – change.org
Movement For Black Lives Petition – m4bl.org
#DefundThePolice – Black Lives Matter
Where to donate:
The Minnesota Freedom Fund – fights discriminatory and coercive jailing
The NAACP Legal Defense Fund – works towards advancing racial justice, inequality and legal reform
The Official George Floyd Memorial Fund – Gofundme.com
It is not enough to be neutral in situation like these. By remaining silent you let the problem continue. I challenge you to be anti-racist and take a stand.