A knee used for vanquish

By Ruth Kehinde– Digital Editor

Protestors pushing against the knee of former officer, Derek Chauvin, implanting their role in providing justice for George Floyd. With permission of Illustrator Andrew Dat Tran.

There have been many occurrences of police brutality in the United States of America, having the outlook of justice seem as if it has ceased to exist. Police brutality is being exposed more and more over the past couple years, with the influx of people recording these actions. This act was witnessed yet again with a 46-year-old black man named George Floyd, who was murdered after police were called for an act of alleged forgery in a store called Cup Foods in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25. 

This murder has lead to various protests, in Minnesota as well as across the nation, to portray the sadness and anger for the way the murder transpired for it digs deep into mainly why. Bigotry has been heard and read about but when it’s seen first-hand, it takes a whole new perspective. 

The death of George Floyd not only confirms what needs to be worked on in America, but moreover how all of its citizens can unite to provide change to have all lives matter, starting with blacks. 

Co-owner of Cup Foods, Mahmoud Abumayyaleh, stated on a video call with CNN that one of his staff members identified the $20 bill received from Floyd was fake, resulting in the arrival of the Minneapolis officers subsequently handcuffing Floyd outside of the store. 

Despite being unarmed and complying with the demands of the police officers, Floyd was then pushed to the concrete ground. Floyd, still in handcuffs and in no way a threat with both his hands behind his back, was then choked to death by the force of former officer Derek Chauvin’s knee on the back of his neck. 

This strangulation of Floyd portrays the control the police force has by using their power to fuel their own personal beliefs rather than their actual job. Chauvin was recorded to have been on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, according to ABC News. 

Senior Dubem Okafor said, “I think this is yet another horrific and intolerable display of either stupidity, pride or hatred for not only George Floyd but the black community at large. It is a complete and utter failure on the police and law enforcement that promises to protect.”

In the article, “In George Floyd’s Death, a Police Technique Results in a Too-Familiar Tragedy” published by the New York Times on May 29, Neil MacFarquahr wrote, “the manual of the Minneapolis Police Department states that neck restraints and chokeholds are basically reserved for when an officer feels caught in a life-or-death situation.” As said previously, Floyd was already in handcuffs and on the ground, unable to be any type of harm. However, Chauvin acted otherwise. 

Neil MacFarquahr continues to write, “if it was a form of “street justice,” that is considered a form of bullying that police academies also instruct against.” 

“It is teaching someone a lesson — next time you will think twice about what you do,” said Philip M. Stinson, a retired police officer who now teaches criminal justice at Bowling Green State University, in the same article.

Floyd’s death was not only a reminder of the reality of what America is, it also depicts how the individuals that are supposed to be responsible for protecting the American people are actually the ones the American people have to be protected from.  

The death of George Floyd has resulted in multiple protestors fighting for their right to have their voices heard due to the generations that have gone through the pain of having theirs be unable to. After the video went viral, protestors, mostly young adults, marched Minneapolis with signs stating “No justice, no peace” and “I can’t breathe,” those statements referring to the injustice upon people of color and the words that Floyd said moments before his death. 

The protesting expanded nationwide driving the force behind the movement which expanded to include the incineration of the third Minneapolis police precinct, looting the Minneapolis Target store, vandalism on the CNN main headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, and so much more. These acts were made to signify the lack of consequences police officers have for killing innocent individuals. 

“The murder of George Floyd brought immense attention to an issue that is not new by any means. The criminal justice system is so broken and has been since its creation. Black people as well as POC are set up systematically to fail in many aspects, and it’s way beyond time to do something about it,” said senior Alanis Perez. “First and foremost, George Floyd needs justice. All four of the former officers involved deserve murder charges. What is incredibly enraging to me is the fact that the officer that killed George Floyd was out living his life for days and the other three still are.”

“They should have been put in holding cells until charges were figured out and arrested immediately like any POC would have been without question. This is why I’m angry and this is why I protested in Hartford, [Connecticut] Saturday, May 30 and Monday, June 1. Protesting was empowering and I am so glad that I went out. Anyone who cares, who can, should protest. As a white-passing POC, I think it’s important to show up, support, and amplify the voices of black people and I will continue to do so. The system is broken. George Floyd deserves true justice. We should be enraged,” Perez continued.

Although Chauvin was charged with thrid degree murder and manslaughter, he hasn’t been found guilty, and the bystanding officers have yet to be arrested and charged, making one think about how many other instances of people of color being killed have gone unrecorded and without judicial consequence. 

Lasell alumni Annamarie Seiler (‘20) says, “racism is a deeply-rooted leech that exists in everyone; growing up in American culture means it was literally inherited at birth. That was not our doing, but what is our responsibility is to dig into ourselves and find that leech. Identify it. Acknowledge its existence. Get comfortable with the discomfort it brings to know it’s alive inside you. Then, and only then, can we begin to separate ourselves from it — and know its marks will always be there.”

A school-wide sent email sent out on June 1 by Henry Pugh on behalf of President Michael B. Alexander states that, “at a time when we should be coming together to protect and care for the most vulnerable among us, we remain a nation divided.” 

“The vile death of George Floyd, and the upheaval of the last few days and the last few months, tells us that, as far as we have come, we still have a long way to go to achieve justice for all,” Alexander continued. 

Chalk art on the sidewalk along Grove Street in Newton, MA made by Newton citizens. Photo by Ruth Kehinde.

Decades of suffering and silence leads to impatience. Impatience leads to last resorts, and last resorts can lead to large-scale consequences. The act of people of color fighting for survival is a war seeking justice and peace for without both, we will cease being the “free” United States of America.

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