Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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The murder of George Floyd

Steve Almond writes:

On Monday, police in Minneapolis were called to the scene of an alleged check forgery. They detained the suspect, a 46-year-old African American security guard named George Floyd, and eventually forced him onto the ground. Police claim Floyd resisted arrest, though explosive video footage from a nearby restaurant calls that claim into question.

Three officers then held Floyd’s body down, while one kneeled on his neck for several minutes. Because the entirety of the incident was filmed, we can hear Floyd beg for his life. After a few minutes, we see him stop moving. He is choked to death before our eyes.

Had the officers in question chosen to restrict Floyd’s movements by, for instance, hanging him from a nearby tree, we would call what happened to him a lynching.

But because in America we reflexively employ the language of white supremacy, we don’t call what happened to Floyd a lynching, or a state-sanctioned execution, or even a murder. We call it a “violent incident” or “an alleged case of police brutality.”

The four officers in question have been fired, the FBI has initiated an investigation and the killing has sparked protests.

Amid the frenzied news coverage of Floyd’s death, it’s important to step back and place this atrocity into its proper historical context.

It is not some unfortunate anomaly towards which we should cast “thoughts and prayers.” Floyd’s slaughter is the natural and intended consequence of the Republican Party choosing to rally around a sense of exalted white grievance and victimization. Because that victimization is always weaponized and turned against people of color. [Continue reading…]

The Detroit News reports:

The death of Floyd, who was black, and the actions of the white officers has rekindled a national discussion of racial bias by police and prompted Detroit police chief James Craig to hold a Thursday press conference to reassure the community “we are a constitutional police department.”

Craig called Floyd’s death a “murder” and said if the incident had happened in Detroit, the officers would be in jail.

While warning against “painting all officers and police departments with a broad brush,” Craig added: “We all share in the disappointment of the dishonor these officers bring to our badge.” [Continue reading…]

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