On Thursday night~, activists in Minneapolis will gather in George Floyd Square, near the spot where Floyd was killed. Change will be celebrated in Minneapolis with a carnival on the square this Saturday. Many people thought that the death of George Floyd by Minneapolis police and the subsequent worldwide protests were the impetus the country needed to face its own racism in the police force.
Floyd, a Black man, was held down by a white police officer for more than nine minutes while he screamed, “I can’t breathe,” eerily similar to Eric Garner’s final words in 2014. The murder of Floyd on May 25, 2020, was captured on video, and the public outcry that followed was widespread. However, the year 2020 ended without the kind of substantial police reforms that many hoped for and others feared would occur in the midst of the deadly coronavirus epidemic, economic turmoil, and a divided U.S. presidential race. The years 2021 and 2022 likewise did not usher in any notable development.
Proponents of federal steps like outlawing chokeholds and no-knock warrants and removing the so-called qualified immunity safeguards for law enforcement continue to wait for indications of change three years after Floyd’s murder. Democratic U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, of Massachusetts, said at a recent news conference organized by a Black Lives Matter collective, “When people casually, and I think too frequently, say that there is some sort of racial reckoning that we’re in the midst of, I see no evidence that.”
It should be made clear that advocates for racial justice and their elected officials’ allies have not slowed down in their efforts. Tyre Nichols’s murder in January at the hands of Memphis police officers highlighted how long it is taking for real change to occur. “I don’t play with words like’reckoning,'” Pressley stated. That should be a monumental achievement. And there has been no reaction to the lynching, choking, violence, and murder of Black people.
Officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, shot and killed Floyd, and three other policemen who saw what happened but did nothing are now behind bars. In state court, Chauvin received a sentence of 22 and a half years for second-degree murder. Two of the other three cops admitted guilt and received reduced sentences for their roles in the manslaughter; the third officer was found guilty in court and is currently awaiting sentencing. In addition, Chauvin admitted that Floyd’s death was caused by him maintaining his knee on his neck, thus he pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights charge. A concurrent sentence of 21 years was imposed in that instance. The three others received substantially lighter terms after being found guilty of breaching Floyd’s rights as well.
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