Mural portrait of George Floyd by Eme Street Art in Mauerpark (Berlin, Germany)

Writer’s Lounge – Sorting Out George Floyd’s Murder And The Demand For Justice

 

Sorting Out George Floyd’s Murder

Editor’s Note:

My approach to handling events of the magnitude that we have seen in the last several days, namely the reaction to the killing of George Floyd and the inexcusably delayed arrest of Minneapolis P.D. Officer Derek Michael Chauvin – is generally, to take some additional time to process the raw information and gain some further perspective. 

This is particularly apt, given that we do no straight news reporting, but focus on news commentary.  I should note also, that the deliberate interval has nothing to do with any equivocation about Mr. Floyd’s life having ended via the actions of a criminal with a badge and a uniform.

An example of the progression and dynamism of the linear nature of time in these circumstances is what we have just learned from the autopsy of Floyd – that the pathologists, both the Hennipin County medical examiner and the two independent experts, concluded that Floyd’s death is properly classified as a homicide. 

With that established, this edition of Writer’s Lounge, will feature an emphasis more on impressions, perceptions and interpretations than a hard examination of established facts.

And to get started, I am pleased to include a contribution from a friend of National Compass, Robert E. Blackwell, and we hope to feature more of his prose and commentary going forward:

 

Meme of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. - his image and his quote, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

text of Robert E. Blackwell's prose entitled "Question".

 


 

What stands out most to me, but is not in the least bit surprising, is the conduct of impeached president Donald Trump at this moment of national strife and upheaval in the wake of the death of George Floyd, 46, a native of Fayetteville, North Carolina and who grew up in Houston, Texas.

Trump’s history of exploiting race in general, and hatred and animus toward African Americans in particular, has deep roots. Take for example, his and his father Fred Trump’s documented efforts to discriminate against blacks in the management of the Trump rental properties in New York City.

Take also, for example, Trump’s role in pressuring Manhattan city officials in prosecuting, convicting and imprisoning the “Central Park Five”, despite exculpatory evidence:

 

 

I also reflect, as does, Eric Garner’s mother, Gwen and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, on the death of Eric Garner in 2014 – the first incident in which, the quote, “I can’t breathe”, inflicted the national consciousness.

Cover of New York Daily News August 2nd, 2014 edition with photo of NYPD cops in the process of killing Eric Garner on Staten Island.

And Garner’s family was further victimized when a racially imbalanced Staten Island Grand Jury, declined to return an indictment against the NYPD officer most directly responsible for Garner’s death – and then, compounding that, Trump Attorney General William Barr, in July 2019, opted not to prosecute Garner’s killer, Daniel Pantaleo on federal civil rights charges, (likely considering that Donald Trump and his voting base would frown upon such a course of action).   

 

 

Trump and his voters are also living a glaring contradiction as it relates to their attitudes on the nationwide protests that ensued from George Floyd’s murder.

Trump is known to disapprove of protests, but with notable exceptions. While he called for NFL athletes to be fired for protesting systemic racism and police brutality, Trump applauds and encourages armed militants that menace state and local governments in anti stay at home protests against lawfully issued community mitigation directives intended to curb the spread of COVID-19

Trump’s voters, now that local governments are putting 6PM and 8PM nightly curfews in place against demonstrators reacting to George Floyd’s death and a litany of other police involved killings of blacks, aren’t saying anything about “Constitutional Rights of Assembly.”

A leading factor in the maintenance of the status quo in terms of police and sheriffs’ departments not removing rogue cops from their ranks, is the power of municipal police officer unions, exemplified by the New York Police Benevolent Association

The union is benevolent towards cops who apply excessive force, violate civil rights and execute civilians in the street.  In the last week, a campaign was mounted by civil rights advocates to rescind the laws that keep the discipline records of police officers in New York, private.

The PBA is all over it and intends to spend tens, if not hundreds of thousands to keep the public from seeing the full record of police misconduct. The disinfectant of sunlight is the last thing that would be “benevolent” to the malevolent among their ranks.

by Richard Cameron


 

Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, retired Admiral Mike Mullen, writing in the Atlantic, weighed in on Trump’s handling of this crisis:

“It sickened me yesterday to see security personnel—including members of the National Guard—forcibly and violently clear a path through Lafayette Square to accommodate the president’s visit outside St. John’s Church. I have to date been reticent to speak out on issues surrounding President Trump’s leadership, but we are at an inflection point, and the events of the past few weeks have made it impossible to remain silent.”

Mullen went on to describe Trump and his entourage, traipsing over to St. John’s Church, as a “stunt”:

“Whatever Trump’s goal in conducting his visit, he laid bare his disdain for the rights of peaceful protest in this country, gave succor to the leaders of other countries who take comfort in our domestic strife, and risked further politicizing the men and women of our armed forces.

There was little good in the stunt.

While no one should ever condone the violence, vandalism, and looting that has exploded across our city streets, neither should anyone lose sight of the larger and deeper concerns about institutional racism that have ignited this rage.”

 

Military police lined up across from protesters, blocking entrance to Lafayette Park, opposite to the White House.

 

And Joe Biden, offered a different portrait of presidential leadership today:

 


 

I was raised hearing the language.  From my family, my friends, my community, and my political party which was the GOP:

“If he (my father’s coworker) could get out of the ghetto then so can they”
“If they would police themselves…”
“They should have complied”
“They asked for it”
“They’re lazy”
“If they’d do a hard day’s work”
“Thugs”
“Crack mom”
“Gangbangers”
“He got what he deserved”
“If they weren’t guilty they wouldn’t be in jail”

And I learned the language myself. All of it. But I had “black friends” so it was OK

It wasn’t until I was in my 40s that I started to clearly see the world around me. None of this is OK

It must have been a God thing combined with the patience of friends who would call me out or simply explain what I wasn’t seeing, and being married to a man who is mixed race that began to snap me out of it.  Then one day, I heard my youngest brother refer to President Obama as “Monkey boy” and I was genuinely horrified. After that everything just changed.

It made me sick to my stomach to hear my older brother using the “N” word whenever an athlete didn’t do as well as he thought he should or was better than the guy on the team he wanted to win. Whereas it used to just irritate me that he was so childish.

I noticed how deeply wrong the way my father and others spoke about People of Color was.  As if they were naturally less than whites but once in a while excelled to our level:

“You should have seen them work so hard” 
“Almost like white guys, Dad?”
“Yeah”

And I started to call them out.  In my parents’ case they didn’t get what I was upset over. My brothers just became furious when the subject was mentioned. “Look, anyone can be a N.  It’s not just about black people!”

Over a decade later, my Father has passed, my Mother still doesn’t understand that she’s not “not racist”, and I have zero doubts about which side of these protests my brothers fall on. The wrong side.  I have ended many friendships and have been out of the Republican party for 12 years.

I still recognize the language that circulates whenever issues or, in this case the abhorrent police brutality against a Person of Color happens.  It makes me cringe to hear things like “I’m not privileged just because I’m white,” “REVERSE RACISM!,” or “ALL LIVES MATTER!”

Some of the people who say these things just don’t “get it”, yet.  Like I didn’t “get it” for most of my life.  But I think most just don’t care. They want to be the victim here. They desperately want to stay special. They want to continue holding station over those other than themselves.

I do not think these, the die-hards, can be reached. This is their hill to fight and die on.  But I do think some others can be. I think they can “get it” eventually

The brutal murder of George Floyd has drawn a line that I refuse to even try to balance on.  I can’t change the past but I can work toward a better future.  And if people in the White community around me, including my family, don’t like it then they can see themselves out.  I will eagerly stand with the oppressed and humbly listen and learn from my brothers and sisters who can forgive me.

I came late to the fight but they will have to carry me from the field to stop me now.

by Jennifer Keller-Puebla

 


 

One week after a Minneapolis police officer ruthlessly killed George Floyd, who was accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill at a store, after protests. mostly peaceful, but sometimes violent and destructive, broke out all over the nation, President Donald Trump finally came out of hiding in the White House and addressed the American people.

He spoke 803 words.  Just 36 were about Mr. George.  None, not a single word the president spoke, were about the anger, pain, suffering, sense of injustice that millions of African-Americans felt at seeing yet another black man brutally killed by a white police officer.

Mr. Trump’s speech lasted seven minutes and twenty seconds, one minute and 14 seconds shorter than the time police officer Derek Chauvin knelt with his full weight on the neck of Mr. Floyd, but he spent not one second of his time trying to console America’s minority community or to assure them his administration will lead an effort to forever change the way the police interact with black men in this country.

Instead, the president painted a picture designed to frighten his white base, a picture of angry, violent, lawless black people attacking police officers, burning buildings, looting stores. 

He even tried to cash in on the love and respect the American people have for the nurses he abandoned during the worst days of the COVID-19 crises by citing them during his inflammatory speech.  “Brave nurses, who have battled the virus, are afraid to leave their homes,” he complained, failing to mention those brave nurses overcame their fears to battle the virus even though his administration failed to provide them with necessary life-saving PPE.

And then, missed by all but the audience for which it was intended, the president mentioned the Second Amendment.  During civil unrest over the killing of a black man by a white police officer, the president of the United States felt it was necessary to remind the American people of their right to bear arms.

“I am mobilizing all available federal resources — civilian and military — to stop the rioting and looting, to end the destruction and arson, and to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans, including your Second Amendment rights,” said Mr. Trump.

In what way did the reaction to the killing of the defenseless Mr. Floyd threaten the Second Amendment rights of American citizens?  Obviously, it didn’t.  So, why did Mr. Trump choose a night of anger and pain and protest by minorities and their white supporters to mention the right to own and use firearms?

The answer is obvious: he wanted to plant in the minds of his white supporters that it is he – “I will fight to protect you.  I am your President of law and order” – and only he who will marshal the forces necessary to keep the “professional anarchists, violent mobs, arsonists, looters, criminals, rioters, Antifa, and others” from attacking white homes, white businesses and white churches. 

It was he, Donald J. Trump, who was going to make sure Americans didn’t have to use rely on their Second Amendment rights to save themselves from the angry black mob.  “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” the president warned days earlier.

And, to make sure his message was clear, especially to his evangelical base, the president’s aides used force to clear a path through peaceful protesters to the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church, where his presence wasn’t welcomed by the bishop of the church who called Mr. Trump’s remarks “antithetical” to the spirit of Christ.

There he stood, not to pray or ask for God’s guidance,  but to hold up a Bible he’s never read as if to warn his followers that, if not for him, the damage St. John’s suffered at the hands of rioters would be visited upon their churches, as well.

That was the message the president of the United States chose to deliver on a night when America was already gripped by fear, pain, loss and anger.

by Tony Wyman

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