'I can't breathe': Police killing of American Mr George Floyd was hard, painful to watch


'I can't breathe': Police killing of American Mr George Floyd was hard, painful to watch

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

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Jamaicans did not take to the streets but there is no doubting the anguish they feel in common with the tens of thousands of people who rose up all across the United States and many other countries to protest against the May 25 police murder of Mr George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The dramatic videos shared across the globe almost in real time were painful to watch as the white cop, Mr Derek Chauvin knelt on the neck of Mr Floyd, a black man, for eight minutes and 46 seconds; a full three minutes after the man stopped moving and nearly two minutes after he ceased to breathe.

It was as if those watching the videos saw murder in living colour being committed right in front of their faces, aided and abetted by three other white police officers who held down Mr Floyd and did nothing to stop their colleague, all the time ignoring his pleas that, “I can't breathe!”

We in this space obviously condemn the orgy of burning and looting that accompanied the peaceful protests in cities all over the US, especially in Minneapolis, and which threaten to overshadow the justness of the cause against police homicides.

Authorities there might come to rue the length of time they took to arrest the killer cop, and then only on a charge of third-degree murder and manslaughter, while, though firing them, did not arrest the other three alleged accessories to the murder.

In the context of historic race relations in America it was inevitable that the incident would be cast as white police brutality versus black people, fuelled by a great many incidents of police homicides answered with acquittals over the years.

The wound from the Floyd killing was fresh, open and gaping, as it came on the backs of African Americans Mr Ahmaud Arbery, who was slain while jogging in Georgia, and Ms Breonna Taylor killed during a police raid on her home in Louisville, Kentucky.

It certainly was not helped by an independent autopsy ordered by Mr Floyd's family which contradicted the official one ruling out death by asphyxiation and strangulation. That private autopsy was performed by Dr Allecia M Wilson, of the University of Michigan, and Dr Michael Baden, the famed former New York City medical examiner.

“George Floyd died not just because of the knee lodged at his neck by a police officer, but also because of the other officers who helped hold him down. Not only was the knee on George's neck a cause of his death, but so was the weight of the other two police officers on his back, who not only prevented blood flow into his brain but also air flow into his brain,” the autopsy found.

And yet for all the debate about race discrimination it was evident that whites were as enraged as blacks and other races, and were out in their numbers in cities everywhere on the globe. At some locations whites even outnumbered blacks.

It is clear that America has much to do to mend the cancerous race relations between majority whites and minority blacks. Until then, the union that gave us the most powerful nation on Earth will remain unnecessarily imperfect.

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