I am pausing for a moment to reflect on the immeasurable damage that police officer and his colleagues did when they killed George Floyd.
The people governing the U.S. law-enforcement system allowed it to train and employ potentially lethal methods on defensess, handcuffed persons. The officers used these methods and killed George Floyd when they applied excessive and lethal force during his arrest, and there are strong indications his being a Black man was a factor in how he was treated.
And this is simply not acceptable.
As a predictable outcome of that officer killing somebody NOT in a self-defense situation being let off ONCE AGAIN, hundreds of thousands are violently protesting their oppression accross the U.S. during a pandemic. Gatherings worldwide are holding vigils in support of the victims of police brutality, disproportionally Black men in the U.S.
…because as we plainly see and know, when we say police killed George Floyd, it is a euphemism. We really mean in our hearts that those police officers murdered him, most likely because he was Black and they got away with it because they were U.S. police officers.
Police using different methods to deal with a person on the basis of their demographic is a well-known problem. It is called profiling. The U.S. is notorious for profiling that targets Black men and there are countless complaints in Canada about this as well. As journalist and anti-racism activisy Desmond Cole told The Tyee earlier this year,
I don’t care if you’re racist, I care if you’re hurting meDesmond Cole
Cole was stopped by a police officer on his way to Stanley Park. He was in town to give a talk about anti-Black racism in Canada, and says he wasn’t the least bit surprised he was profiled and stopped by police for being Black While Walking. Because as everyone knows, people who are not white face an increase in negative outcomes at the hands of law enforcement in Canada
Taking such a shortcut as profiling is an action based on deeply-held bias – an action in the delivery of a policing service and prohibited by our human rights legislation when done on explicitly-prohibited grounds which include race.
Profiling is the elephant in the room of law enforcement and one of the reasons why in Canada Black Lives Matter and Transgender rights activists including me, and others fighting for inclusion and equality work side by side to keep police (or at least their uniforms) out of our parades, gatherings, events, and festivals.
The presence of police is oppressive in-of-itself to too many people which have learned to fear them because they seen what happens to people like them.
I have observed few as a demographic fear police more than Blacks and Trans people in the U.S. – and Indigenous and Trans people in Canada. And for good reason.
Let’s not forget that the murder of George Floyd by police happened while a pandemic rages out of control in the US with clear demographic contrasts of outcomes and while everyone is on edge.
And every one of us deserves to live our lives free of the fear of “special treatment” for not being a straight, caucasian, cisgender, well-dressed, well-spoken christian man without a disability.
The resulting rebellion we are now witnessing accross the U.S. is bringinng people together in a chaotic environment while COVID-19 rages with enormous health implications. Contacts can not be traced. Distances can not be kept. Yet the anger of those enraged by this blatant injustice demonstrably needs to be released.
After all, the decision whether to employ tactics that would predictably trigger such a rebellion was law enforcement’s alone to take.
They made the wrong choices and the U.S. is reaping the consequences of allowing such decisions today. What is happening now is the natural outcome of the bad choices that allowed Floyd’s death to happen.
I remember observing news reports from South Africa in the 1980s when I was a youth. Footage would show similarly ruthless police brutality in that other White-dominated country that also used hyper-militarized police to terrorize its Black community. And the news would also show the violent response by those who are the victims of this oppressive, disproportionate, ruthless, and targeted policing.
And I understand why people fight back against their oppressors as I do today.
That’s because regardless of the possibly devastating cost of standing up to it during a pandemic, the outcome of resistance to an oppressor pays off forever.