“I Can’t Breathe!”
The whimper in his frail, failing voice was audible as he choked for air, desperately making a last-ditch plea for anyone to save his life.
They ignored him.
Floyd pleads for air saying “I can’t breathe” at least 16 times. At one time he calls out ‘Mama!” “Momma! I’m through.”
His mother had died at least two years earlier.
Noting the limp body, the police call for an ambulance, but Mr. Chauvin’s knee does not relent.
Undisturbed, the police officer, with a smirk on his face, digs his knee deeper into George Floyd’s neck.
With his hands in his pocket, perhaps fearing to contract the virus (COVID-19), the man of the law appears unruffled as the poor guy’s body goes limp.
Around him were three other colleagues, uniformed policemen, all sworn to protect and preserve lives. However, on this particular day, they gleefully watch their colleague smother an unarmed black guy to death.
The location: Minneapolis, East 38 Street, Chicago Avenue. Date: May 25, 2020.
What followed were protests that spilled across territorial waters into Europe, all with devastating consequences.
One would be forgiven to think that the above events are extracted from an action movie where police officers track down a criminal before apprehending him. The only problem here is that George Floyd was a handcuffed, unarmed black man going about his day, doing his best to live his portion of the American dream.
That was not to be as his ‘right’ to remain ‘silent’, forever, was forced on him! He wasn’t accorded the right to an attorney or a fair trial. Only the right to die, which was literary shoved down his neck.
While I believe the violence and riots that followed the death of Floyd were a lost opportunity to rally an entire country behind a quest for justice, I fully understand the fury of a community that has for centuries suffered under repressive systems.
Peaceful demonstrations against police brutality and killings, not just those of black people, but of all people, would have had a much better outcome.
What we saw, instead, was a perpetuation of a narrative of a community prone to violence and unrest. A community that has for so long accepted a ‘minority’, ‘inferiority’ narrative, which seems to imply that attacking or killing one of them is equal to an affront on the entire black race in the world.
My point? Police brutality on blacks, and on any other race, is a crime against humanity. It must be met with the stiffest of penalties.
By Innocent Mwangi, 1st June 2020