George Floyd should be alive today. Perhaps he would be accused of allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill to make a purchase, but he would be alive.
He is dead because a police officer knelt on his neck, choking off his air supply. Evidence says Mr. Floyd was held in a prone position with an officer kneeling on his neck for eight minutes; he was unresponsive after five, according to the New York Times. Mr. Floyd would have become unconscious and a threat to no one after between seven seconds to one minute. There are many ways to immobilize a person, if necessary, without kneeling on their neck, holding them prone on the ground, or using a choke hold.
If Mr. Floyd knelt on a prone person’s neck until the person died, he would be arrested as soon as possible, charged with a crime, and jailed without bail. A prosecutor would not say to the public “we have to do this right.”
Mr. Floyd died because of police brutality and because he was African American.
It is critically important to understand that as a society, we were warned that police brutality was coming. Philip Zimbardo’s famous Stanford Prison Study painted a very clear picture. You can read about it here: https://www.prisonexp.org.
Some people argue that the number of guns in the US created this problem. I assure you, it is not the guns. Mr. Floyd did not have a gun.
Mr. Floyd and many other African American citizens are dead because of our scripts and biases, our systemic injustices, and our lack of individual commitment to our shared human condition.
It is tragic, sad, and frightening to see police brutality occur disproportionately in the lives and communities of African American citizens. Is is appalling to see it happen in the middle of a deadly pandemic that is disproportionately killing African Americans.
Although we could all do something positive to support the protestors and African American communities across the country, I think the only adequate response must come from our public servants. How do we treat African Americans who are arrested for murder? Treat the police in this case the same way.
Note: This article was edited to correct a lack of clarity in the stated time the officer knelt on George Floyd’s neck. The original article stated the time was eight minutes, which required further explanation.