Bankole: Don't let George Floyd die in vain
Black people are tired of being killed innocently in encounters with law enforcement. They feel helpless that even when deadly encounters with bad cops are captured on video the officers in question aren’t even indicted by a jury, as was the case with the Eric Garner death in New York. They don’t believe that this nation will ever treat them as equal to their white counterparts.
Six years after an unarmed 43-year-old Garner cried out in a harrowing video as he died in a police chokehold, 46-year-old George Floyd, another unarmed African American uttered the same last words, a dying cry for mercy: “I can't breathe.” A white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin placed his knee on Floyd’s neck as he laid on the ground, while three other officers watched him groan. All four have since been fired by the department. Chauvin has since been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death by Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman.
“We all watched the horrific death of George Floyd on video as witnesses begged the police officer to take him into the police car and get off his neck," said civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing Floyd’s family.
"This abusive, excessive and inhumane use of force cost the life of a man who was being detained by the police for questioning about a non-violent charge."
What Floyd’s death has once again reaffirmed in the eyes of the nation, is that to be black means to perpetually live under suspicion. Just take a look at some of the most recent incidents filmed around the nation, where police were called to innocent black men because their presence wasn’t welcome at a gym, or because they were birdwatching.
In our calls for reform and accountability, we must accept the fact that what happened to Floyd and others before him doesn’t happen to white men. This is about race. Unless we confront the menace of racism in all facets of our national life, including law enforcement, we will continue to see disturbing videos of black men dying at the hands of white officers.
Questions have also been raised about the role of Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, a white liberal superstar who is reportedly being vetted to be Joe Biden's running mate, regarding her time as Hennepin County Attorney. Klobuchar denied reports that she declined to charge Officer Derek Chauvin, who reportedly had at least 10 complaints filed against him, with at least one complaint about his use of excessive force.
"This idea that I somehow declined a case is absolutely false. It is a lie. The case was investigated. That investigation continued into a time where I was already sworn into the U.S. Senate. I never declined the case. It was handled and sent to the grand jury by my successor," she said on MSNBC on Friday.
The Hennepin County Attorney’s office confirmed in a statement to the New York Times last week that Klobuchar had no involvement in the case.
“Sen. Klobuchar’s last day in the office here was December 31, 2006, and she had no involvement in the prosecution of this case at all,” according to the statement.
But something must be done now to stop the open season on black men like Floyd.
“Accountability is the key. Officers must be held accountable for their actions. I see nothing wrong with letting the public know that you as a chief are concerned or have questions about an action that an officer may have taken,” Inkster police Chief William Riley tells me. “You are not prejudging the incident, you are just saying that there are questions about the incident that need answers. I see nothing wrong with department leaders showing concern about these kinds of incidents. This lets the community know that you are truly concerned and not just reading from a cold, emotionless script.”
He adds, “As a police chief I am sickened by the incident. The actions of the one officer kneeling on George Floyd’s neck is just horrible. Plus to have three other officers there, and they did nothing to stop it is even worse, and it makes me wonder what is the true culture there.”
Catch “Redline with Bankole Thompson,” which broadcasts at 11 a.m. weekdays on 910AM.