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George Floyd murder: One year on

While there has been an increase in conversations surrounding race, justice still eludes many other victims of racism including Breonna Taylor and Daunte Wright

Deborah Grey 25 May 2021

Image Courtesy:news.sky.com

It’s been a year since Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into the back of the neck of George Floyd for nine minutes as he died gasping for breath, his last words, “I can’t breathe.”

The 46-year-old African American Man was killed after cops tried to restrain him in connection with an allegedly fake $20 bill. A video of Floyd’s killing went viral and sparked nationwide protests for weeks. On March 20, this year Derek Chauvin was convicted on three counts for the murder of George Floyd. In fact, a few days before the verdict, the City Council of Minneapolis also unanimously approved a settlement of $27 million dollars to Floyd’s family.

Racism still rampant

Since the cold-blooded killing of George Floyd, the United States has seen an unprecedented surge in voices demanding justice for victims of racism and an end to systemic racism itself that lies at the root of income inequality and access to education, healthcare, housing and other resources.

While segregation was outlawed decades ago, it is no coincidence that even today, most low-income neighbourhoods are home to predominantly non-white populations. Public schools in such neighbourhoods are understaffed and underfunded thereby perpetuating a cycle of poverty and misery.

People of colour who do make it out of these neighbourhoods and try to build a life are then targeted using false and often absurd complaints that are deeply rooted in the complainant’s own racist baggage. Black people have been accused of being prowlers and car thieves by their non-black neighbours! 

In fact, last year a video of a woman named Amy Cooper calling 911 while standing in Central Park and accusing Christian Cooper, a black man of threatening her went viral. Christian, a bird-watcher, had just requested Amy to leash her dog, but instead she called the police and told them that “an African-American man” was threatening her, showcasing how black people are unfairly targeted by those who think they can easily get away with making false accusations.

Even today, a disproportionately large number of black people are sent to prison for crimes where most white people get let off with a mild rap on the wrists. Pew Research quoted the 2018 statistics by the Bureau of Justice Statistics to say that there were 1,501 black prisoners for every 1,00,000 black adults! According to the Pew Research Center, “Black men are especially likely to be imprisoned. There were 2,272 inmates per 100,000 black men in 2018, compared with 1,018 inmates per 100,000 Hispanic men and 392 inmates per 100,000 white men.” What’s worse, “The rate was even higher among black men in certain age groups: Among those ages 35 to 39, for example, about one-in-twenty black men were in state or federal prison in 2018 (5,008 inmates for every 100,000 black men in this age group).” 

Say her name: Breonna Taylor!

But while Derek Chauvin was recently convicted for killing George Floyd, last year a grand jury refused to charge officers who shot and killed Breonna Taylor in her own home! 26-year-old Taylor was an Emergency Medical Technician and was fast asleep in her own home on March 13, 2020 when officers of the Louisiana Metro Police Department barged into her home shortly after midnight. Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fearing the men to be intruders, fired at them, and the policemen retaliated with more gunfire killing Taylor. Policemen fired at least 20 rounds, out of which 8 hit Breonna Taylor. But in yet another shocking twist, it was Walker who was arrested for attacking the police! The police claim they were executing a warrant for two men, one of whom was Taylor’s ex-boyfriend Jamarcus Glover, who was wanted in connection with a drugs case and had used Taylor’s address to receive packages. Not only was this disputed by the Postal Department, both men were found to be in custody at the time of the police raid on Taylor and Walker’s home. A few months later, charges against Walked were dropped, but justice still eludes Breonna Taylor.

The murder of Daunte Wright

Then there is the shocking case of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old African-American man who was killed in a police shooting at a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota in April this year. He was initially stopped for an expired tag, but police tried to handcuff him when they discovered an outstanding warrant in his name. Shockingly, Kimberly Potter, the police officer who shot him claimed that she had intended to draw her taser when she drew out her gun instead and shot Wright! A bizarre video of the incident shows Potter yell, “Taser, taser, taser,” as she shoots Wright. While Potter and even the city’s police chief resigned, Potter was only charged with second-degree manslaughter instead of murder charges. Imran Ali, prosecutor and co-counsel in the case recently resigned citing “vitriol” and “partisan politics”. Ali was one of the two people who had charged Potter with second-degree manslaughter. The other was Washington County Attorney Pete Orput. Activists held protests outside Orput’s home demanding murder charges be filed.

Curious parallels with India

Several parallels can be drawn between what is happening in the US and India with respect to cases where police brutality becomes a weapon for committing a hate crime.

The custodial killing case of Khwaja Yunus is still fresh in memory. The young man was allegedly falsely implicated in the Ghatkopar blast case and then killed in custody. The police then allegedly made it look like he escaped from a prison transport vehicle!

Recently, a 17-year-old Mohammed Faisal Husain was also allegedly beaten to death in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao by policemen while he was in their custody at a police station. While the police initially claimed that he was picked up for violating a Corona curfew, and died of a heart attack, a post mortem revealed head injuries as cause of death.

SabrangIndia’s sister organization CJP has now launched a petition demanding justice for Faisal and reparations for his family. The petition may be signed here.

Related:

George Floyd murder: White ex-cop convicted
In the US, some cops take a knee, march with protesters in solidarity
In Memory of George Floyd
India’s dark history of custodial abuse
How India Makes its Mothers Run From Pillar to Post
Justice for Faisal: Sign CJP’s petition NOW!

George Floyd murder: One year on

While there has been an increase in conversations surrounding race, justice still eludes many other victims of racism including Breonna Taylor and Daunte Wright

Image Courtesy:news.sky.com

It’s been a year since Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into the back of the neck of George Floyd for nine minutes as he died gasping for breath, his last words, “I can’t breathe.”

The 46-year-old African American Man was killed after cops tried to restrain him in connection with an allegedly fake $20 bill. A video of Floyd’s killing went viral and sparked nationwide protests for weeks. On March 20, this year Derek Chauvin was convicted on three counts for the murder of George Floyd. In fact, a few days before the verdict, the City Council of Minneapolis also unanimously approved a settlement of $27 million dollars to Floyd’s family.

Racism still rampant

Since the cold-blooded killing of George Floyd, the United States has seen an unprecedented surge in voices demanding justice for victims of racism and an end to systemic racism itself that lies at the root of income inequality and access to education, healthcare, housing and other resources.

While segregation was outlawed decades ago, it is no coincidence that even today, most low-income neighbourhoods are home to predominantly non-white populations. Public schools in such neighbourhoods are understaffed and underfunded thereby perpetuating a cycle of poverty and misery.

People of colour who do make it out of these neighbourhoods and try to build a life are then targeted using false and often absurd complaints that are deeply rooted in the complainant’s own racist baggage. Black people have been accused of being prowlers and car thieves by their non-black neighbours! 

In fact, last year a video of a woman named Amy Cooper calling 911 while standing in Central Park and accusing Christian Cooper, a black man of threatening her went viral. Christian, a bird-watcher, had just requested Amy to leash her dog, but instead she called the police and told them that “an African-American man” was threatening her, showcasing how black people are unfairly targeted by those who think they can easily get away with making false accusations.

Even today, a disproportionately large number of black people are sent to prison for crimes where most white people get let off with a mild rap on the wrists. Pew Research quoted the 2018 statistics by the Bureau of Justice Statistics to say that there were 1,501 black prisoners for every 1,00,000 black adults! According to the Pew Research Center, “Black men are especially likely to be imprisoned. There were 2,272 inmates per 100,000 black men in 2018, compared with 1,018 inmates per 100,000 Hispanic men and 392 inmates per 100,000 white men.” What’s worse, “The rate was even higher among black men in certain age groups: Among those ages 35 to 39, for example, about one-in-twenty black men were in state or federal prison in 2018 (5,008 inmates for every 100,000 black men in this age group).” 

Say her name: Breonna Taylor!

But while Derek Chauvin was recently convicted for killing George Floyd, last year a grand jury refused to charge officers who shot and killed Breonna Taylor in her own home! 26-year-old Taylor was an Emergency Medical Technician and was fast asleep in her own home on March 13, 2020 when officers of the Louisiana Metro Police Department barged into her home shortly after midnight. Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fearing the men to be intruders, fired at them, and the policemen retaliated with more gunfire killing Taylor. Policemen fired at least 20 rounds, out of which 8 hit Breonna Taylor. But in yet another shocking twist, it was Walker who was arrested for attacking the police! The police claim they were executing a warrant for two men, one of whom was Taylor’s ex-boyfriend Jamarcus Glover, who was wanted in connection with a drugs case and had used Taylor’s address to receive packages. Not only was this disputed by the Postal Department, both men were found to be in custody at the time of the police raid on Taylor and Walker’s home. A few months later, charges against Walked were dropped, but justice still eludes Breonna Taylor.

The murder of Daunte Wright

Then there is the shocking case of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old African-American man who was killed in a police shooting at a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota in April this year. He was initially stopped for an expired tag, but police tried to handcuff him when they discovered an outstanding warrant in his name. Shockingly, Kimberly Potter, the police officer who shot him claimed that she had intended to draw her taser when she drew out her gun instead and shot Wright! A bizarre video of the incident shows Potter yell, “Taser, taser, taser,” as she shoots Wright. While Potter and even the city’s police chief resigned, Potter was only charged with second-degree manslaughter instead of murder charges. Imran Ali, prosecutor and co-counsel in the case recently resigned citing “vitriol” and “partisan politics”. Ali was one of the two people who had charged Potter with second-degree manslaughter. The other was Washington County Attorney Pete Orput. Activists held protests outside Orput’s home demanding murder charges be filed.

Curious parallels with India

Several parallels can be drawn between what is happening in the US and India with respect to cases where police brutality becomes a weapon for committing a hate crime.

The custodial killing case of Khwaja Yunus is still fresh in memory. The young man was allegedly falsely implicated in the Ghatkopar blast case and then killed in custody. The police then allegedly made it look like he escaped from a prison transport vehicle!

Recently, a 17-year-old Mohammed Faisal Husain was also allegedly beaten to death in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao by policemen while he was in their custody at a police station. While the police initially claimed that he was picked up for violating a Corona curfew, and died of a heart attack, a post mortem revealed head injuries as cause of death.

SabrangIndia’s sister organization CJP has now launched a petition demanding justice for Faisal and reparations for his family. The petition may be signed here.

Related:

George Floyd murder: White ex-cop convicted
In the US, some cops take a knee, march with protesters in solidarity
In Memory of George Floyd
India’s dark history of custodial abuse
How India Makes its Mothers Run From Pillar to Post
Justice for Faisal: Sign CJP’s petition NOW!

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