“We got all four. We got all four,” was the rally cry that rang out around the world by protestors in Minneapolis, Minnesota as the four former officers involved in the death of George Floyd were finally arrested and charged with his murder. Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane are all in custody awaiting trial.
No justice, no peace has been the chant for decades by those seeking a change in the way Black Americans are treated. From the time that the ancestors of African Americans were vehemently removed from Africa to the present day of how race relations are handle, crimes against Black Americans have been committed with violators receiving little to no consequences as a result of others’ actions. This blatant disrespect devalued the worth of Black Americans and festered an anger and pain with the desire for real change.
Justice and peace seemed to be just a dream for Black America especially today when Black people one after another across the U.S. were killed despite being unarmed and in some cases not resisting arrest or being able to breathe. The names of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, Oscar Grant, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, Pamela Turner, Botham Jean, Jordan Edwards, Philando Castile are just a few of the many names that have been committed to memory of those whose lives were wrongfully taken by the hands of police. They were killed for such crimes as “Being Black while driving,” “Being Black while sitting in their own house,” “Being Black while jogging in the “wrong” neighborhood,” “Being Black while playing music,” and “Being Black for being Black.” Their lives were taken for so-called crimes beyond their control. The day when Black America would overcome became an idea that many hoped for but really didn’t believe would come. But oh the faith of a few and the unusual cruel death of one produced a change so that justice could be served.
On May 25, 2020, four officers responded to a call from an employee at Cup Foods in Minneapolis, Minnesota for a claim that a Black man was allegedly trying to pay for goods using counterfeit money. The interaction between the officers and the man that the world would soon come to know as George Floyd became violent after Floyd was forced to lie on the ground. While lying on the asphalt, one officer dug his knee into Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds all while Floyd pleaded for his life saying repeatedly “I can’t breathe.” Two other officers helped to pinned Floyd down and a fourth officer stood by watching. Thankfully there were plenty of witnesses to the brutality and several who recorded the incident.
After the video of Floyd’s death went viral, retribution for the officers was quick, something that is rarely seen for police committing such a crime. All four officers were immediately fired and protests for justice ensued. In the days that followed protests would spread around the world with some turning violent resulting in looting, destruction of property, and outbreaks of fire with police responding with tear gas and a spray of rubber bullets to disband crowds. Four days later after Floyd’s death the first arrest was made with Chauvin being charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, a sentence that had a maximum punishment of 25 years in prison.