Black Americans have been longing for fairness, equality, justice and accountability ever since they were kidnapped and brought to America from Africa. They were enslaved, brutalized, beaten, raped, murdered and mentally abused and tormented for centuries. This has become part of the culture and DNA of Black American people.
More than a century ago, Black Americans were supposedly freed from their bonds of slavery; but those bonds have remained, just in a different form.
Privileged White Americans have turned a blind eye to the injustice their forefathers created to give them that privileged life, so that the invisible knee that’s been placed on Black Americans’ necks can be kept in place.
America is purportedly the greatest country in the world, and many immigrants seek America for a better life. Meanwhile, Black Americans suffer from the very things immigrants are attempting to escape from in their countries. Black Americans seek an equal shot at a real and fair education and life.
Instead Black Americans are killed by White police officers at a much higher rate than White Americans, while mostly unarmed. Walking while Black, driving while Black, shopping while Black can get you executed by White police officers. They make up less than 14 percent of the population, but are nearly three times as likely to be killed by police, according to a report published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was shopping while Black with a $20 counterfeit bill, and someone called the police. Several police officers cuffed Floyd and pinned him down in the middle of the street, while police officer Derek Chauvin became judge, jury and executioner by placing a knee on the neck of an already subdued Floyd.
One bystander captured Floyd’s death on her cellphone as Floyd gasped for air, taking his last breaths. Floyd has become one of thousands of Black Americans executed at the hands of White law enforcement officers across the country. According to an article by Newsweek in May 2021, at least 229 Black people have been executed by police since George Floyd’s murder.
Being born Black in America can put someone at a very clear disadvantage. Simply the color of a person’s skin can determine the outcome of his interaction with police.
By contrast, in December 2020, Ohio state highway patrol officers pulled over a White man, Merak Burr, who was reportedly uncooperative. Police observed a gun clearly on the passenger seat. Burr ignored all commands by police and refused to exit the vehicle. He twice put his hands on the gun and reportedly threatened to kill the police. He then closed the open vehicle door while police had their guns drawn on him and sped away.
Police officers did not open fire on Burr. Eventually the police chased Burr down, arrested him, and charged him with improperly handling a firearm in a motor vehicle and carrying a concealed weapon. A video broadcast by TMZ showed the evident difference in how police dealt with this man, versus the police encounter with George Floyd.
Accountability — the fact or condition of being accountable or having responsibility for what you do, and being able to give a satisfactory reason for it — is essential for an organization and for a society to assume ownership of its actions. Without that, the organization and society will believe they will not face any consequences. Without accountability, an organization will never perform to its full capabilities.
On April 20th, a jury convicted ex-police officer Derek Chauvin after just a day of deliberations, finding him guilty of second degree manslaughter, third-degree murder, and second-degree unintentional murder. He has been sentenced to serve 22.5 years.
Chauvin was sworn to protect and serve his department with courage and compassion. Instead, Chauvin further divided a country already racially divided beyond repair. The unlawful execution of George Floyd ignited millions of people of all races to protest against systemic racism and police misconduct across the country.
Said Ben Crump, Floyd family attorney: “My hope is that this case sets precedent when we say, ‘For liberty and justice for all.’ That means everybody in America!”
Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.