I can’t breathe ...
The iconic video footage of Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin sitting with his knee placed on the neck of the handcuffed George Floyd for eight minutes and 46 seconds has sparked a global response.
The scene is hauntingly surreal: Chauvin sitting serenely with his knee on the victim’s neck, hand in pocket, and Floyd’s muffled plea of “I can’t breathe” in the background.
Floyd fell unconscious after five minutes of “the kneel”.
The police bodycam has revealed that one of the other officers reported six minutes into “the kneel” that there’s no pulse. “Let’s turn him on his side.” Chauvin refused that suggestion.
This spark from yet another police killing of an unarmed black man has resulted in mass protests across the United States, and as far as Britain and Germany.
A rainbow coalition of protesters has been demonstrating its empathy, braving the conditions of the pandemic to express anger.
In fact, in some cities, even police have symbolically acted in solidarity with Lloyd and those protesting.
It is but a glimpse of Martin Luther King Jr’s dream; a breath of fresh air.
However, a number of these protests have unfortunately turned violent.
This speaks to the legacy of police violence and mass incarceration — the overwhelmingly black prison population in the US represents 25 per cent of the world’s incarcerated persons.
In addition, there is pent-up anger over the bungled handling of the Covid-19 pandemic by the Trump Administration and the reality that poor health systems have resulted in black and brown communities experiencing devastating death rates.
As a result … I can’t breathe.
There is also the underlying frustration with the federal response to the pandemic’s economic devastation. The resulting historic levels of unemployment would be fuelling those fires, given the obvious inequities portrayed in the bailout package of trillions of dollars for the giant corporations, while there was a pittance for working people and small business.
That said, as we witness the violence, we are reminded of how in an attempt to undermine progressive movements various national police agencies secretly fostered violence during the civil rights and peace movements.
Racism provided the ideology for settlers to commit genocide of so many native people across a continent. The subsequent enslavement of millions of Africans built the foundation of a successful regime of divisiveness, which leads the world today.
Chauvin’s manifestation of extreme lack of empathy reflected the harsher reality of that ethos. Through social media to millions, it has struck a chord, causing many to question “business as usual”.
Cornel West, a noted activist and academic, expressed his pleasant surprise at this breath of fresh air, given the wide protesting in the context of the pandemic. Key in this regard is the extent of the diversity of those involved generally and the involvement of police officers, in particular.
This moment is a time to trash the playbook of divisiveness, which has been updated by the Trump Administration. Drawing from the legacy of trailblazers such as Dr King, the present generation is being asked to access its best self and to peacefully build a movement of true solidarity.
A breath of fresh air.
Their success will not only benefit the US, but the rest of us on this precious planet — the only cosmic body known to have freely available air.
• Glenn Fubler represents Imagine Bermuda
Man shot near Fort Hamilton
Disgraced ministers quit Cabinet
Caines regrets ‘significant distraction’
Island opportunity as wealthy flee cities
It has come to this: no more party favours
Two positive virus tests off Atlanta flight
Senior, 95, survives coronavirus
DeSilva: ‘I paid the price’ for party error
Take Our Poll