“Daddy Changed The World!”
It truly was 9 minutes and 29 seconds that not only shocked, but changed how the world viewed not only law enforcement, but how inhumane Black men can be treated in America.
On May 25, 2020, a Minneapolis, Minnesota man by the name of George Floyd entered a Cup Foods store to purchase cigarettes. He was a regular in that store, and according to owner Mike Abumayyaleh never had an issue.
On that day things were different. He was accused of paying for his cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. The employee used what Abumayyaleh described as store protocol to call the police, and inform them of the actions telling the 911 operator. He had told them “he doesn’t want” to return the cigarettes when asked to do so.
No one could imagine what happened next.
As police officers arrived, Floyd was inside of the driver’s seat of his parked car. After a struggle getting him to enter the police vehicle, he was wrestled into the ground, where former officer Derek Chauvin placed his left knee on his neck as Floyd laid face first in handcuffs. Officers Kueng and Lane also placing their weight on his back as officer Thao held back bystanders who thankfully filmed the incident on their cell phones. Images that would eventually enrage not only a nation, but the world.
9 minutes and 29 seconds. The horror of Floyd saying he could not breathe, and screaming for his mom who had passed away years prior still haunts many of us until this day.
The Summer Of Protest
The video resulted in summer-long protests demanding justice around the nation, and soon after across the world. We saw buildings get destroyed, multiple police altercations, and journalists arrested live on video. Corporations, and sports leagues suspended games and created campaigns
Chauvin was charged with murder four days after the killing of Floyd. Yet, protests continued, and the conversation about police relations in America, and how Black men and women are treated in this country became the forefront on social media and cable news coverage.
At the moment we were reacting to Floyd’s public killing, we started learning about the tragic story of Breonna Taylor. She was killed on March 13, 2020 at her home after plainclothes officers forced their way into her home on a “no-knock” warrant. Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker believed they were being burglarized, defended her home with one gunshot. This resulted in 32 shots being returned and the unfortunate killing of Taylor.
Weeks after we learned about the killing of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta, Georgia, after falling asleep in his car in a fast-food parking lot.
The events spotlighted what many who experience it every day already knew – Black and brown men & women are treated differently in this country. The way we think about policing in this country need to reform, and change to better service those of all races, and communities.
Just under one year after the horrific events in Minnesota, Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. He is still awaiting sentencing. The other three officers present that day will go to trial on March 2022.
While many of the nation celebrated justice, it did not last long. 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant was killed by an officer as he approached an altercation. Six People total were killed at the hands of police on that very day.
Fight For Change
As the United States starts to open up from a year-long lockdown, joy and celebration start to fill up across this nation. As our attention moves to creating a memorable 2021, it’s important for us to keep our voices into demanding change.
Much can change in one year, but much more has to happen to ensure the generational change needed for our kids to live the life of equality we all deserve in the United States of America. For Floyd to have truly changed the world, we must continue to push, educate, and keep the conversation at the top of your timelines, in your homes, and in the media. We must also push our elected officials to do what’s right, and pass legislation that will ensure that “American Dream” that is often discussed.