Tuesday, May 26, 2020

“I Can't Breathe”: The Murder of George Floyd

The following was written and first published on Facebook by Isuru Herath in response to last night's killing by police of George Floyd (pictured above), a 46-year-old African-American man who worked as a security guard at Conga Latin Bistro.

Herath is a labor organizer and south Minneapolis resident who lives in Ward 9, where Floyd was killed.

I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around another state-sanctioned murder at the hands of the police. There's something about how the cops decided to murder George Floyd during a pandemic by slowly taking away his ability to breathe just as COVID-19 slowly takes away the patient's ability to breathe – taking away the strength of the black race to breathe.

This act of choking an innocent person to death is a long-used tool of the capitalist state. Whether lynching black people in the U.S or the global north slowly suffocating the indigenous people across the world to retain hegemonic control of lands and resources of the global south, it's a deliberate, calculated act to kill non-white people.

When people say, George Floyd was saying, “I can't breathe” for four minutes, it echos the voices of the oppressed peoples who have been shouting for centuries. Now, there are over 100,000 people, mostly black people that died in the last few months, likely thinking at the end, “I can't breathe,” because of the negligent decisions by our political leaders to place the interest of profit [before people].

I see no difference between the action the cop took to kill George and the act of slowly killing people for the capitalists. Just as the Walz-Flannagan administration decided to open the state during this pandemic, knowing that it would be black, native, and immigrant communities that will feel the onslaught of the disease, they were willing to choke communities of color for their political expediency.

In this case, one form of choking is more explicit, and the other is insidious.

Similarly, when the healthcare industry, backed by the state, decides to under-staff hospitals intentionally and erode the protections of the workers, it's because they believe that black and brown lives are not worth saving. When conditions have created to force Amazon workers, the meat packagers, the factory workers, Caribou workers, and all essential workers to work with complete disregard for their humanity, the workers are indirectly, but intentionally choked.

It's all related; it wasn't another simple act of “police brutality,” but an overall coordinated part of our society set forth by the state and the corporate elites. The act of choking is a tool of the capitalist society, and it's the tool that AmeriKKKa has been using for centuries to slowly take away the ability for the oppressed people to breathe.

Rest in power, George Floyd. I hope you have all the opportunity to breathe freely.

– Isuru Herath
via Facebook
May 26, 2020

NEXT: Honoring George Floyd

Related Off-site Links:
Man Dies in Minneapolis After Video Shows Police Officer Kneeling on His NeckStar Tribune (May 26, 2020).
Man Who Begged “Please, I Can't Breathe” Dies in Minneapolis Police Custody – Mike Mullen (City Pages, May 26, 2020).
Man Dies in Minneapolis Police Custody; 4 Cops Fired; Gov. Walz Wants Answers – Brandt Williams, Tim Nelson and Matt Sepic (MPR News, May 26, 2020).
“It’s Real Ugly”: Protesters Clash With Minneapolis Police After George Floyd’s Death – Jeff Wagner (WCCO-4, May 26, 2020).
Police in Riot Gear Fire Rubber Bullets and Tear Gas at Thousands of Protestors Demanding the Arrest of Four Minneapolis Cops Involved in the Death of Black Man George Floyd – Rachel Sharp and Karen Ruiz (Daily Mail, May 26, 2020).

UPDATES: Additional Video Shows George Floyd Was Not Resisting Arrest as Police Claimed – Biba Adams (The Grio, May 27, 2020).
Friends and Family Members Reeling Following George Floyd's Death – Christina Maxouris (WCCO-4 News, May 27, 2020).
George Floyd's Family Says Four Officers Involved in His Death Should Be Charged With Murder – Christina Maxouris (CNN, May 27, 2020).
Victim in Police Encounter Had Started New Life in Minnesota – Associated Press via MPR News (May 27, 2020).
“Why Is the Man Who Killed George Floyd Not in Jail?”: Minneapolis Mayor Calls for Charges Against Arresting OfficerKSTP News (May 27, 2020).
As Police Brutality Draws National Attention, Advocates and Journalists Push for Accountability in Shooting of Breonna Taylor – Anne Branigin (The Root, May 27, 2020).
From George Floyd to Chris Cooper: Ibram X. Kendi on “Racist Terror” Facing Black People in AmericaDemocracy Now! (May 27, 2020).
No One Put a Knee on His Neck: A Cop Tortured and Killed George Floyd on Camera — Yet It Took Four Days to Arrest Him – Leonard Greene (New York Daily News, May 29, 2020).
Policing in the US Is Not About Enforcing Law. It’s About Enforcing White Supremacy – Paul Butler (The Gaurdian, May 30, 2020).
Police Erupt in Violence Nationwide – Matthew Dessem (Slate, May 31, 2020).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Rallying in Solidarity with Eric Garner and Other Victims of Police Brutality
In Minneapolis, Rallying in Solidarity with Black Lives in Baltimore
“Say Her Name” Solidarity Action
“We Are All One” – #Justice4Jamar and the 4th Precinct Occupation
Quote of the Day – March 31, 2016
“This Doesn't Happen to White People”
Remembering Philando Castile and Demanding Abolition of the System That Targets and Kills People of Color
Sweet Darkness
Photo of the Day, 5/3/2015: “Black Is Sacred”
“And Still We Rise!” – Mayday 2015
“And Still We Rise!” – Mayday 2015 (Part II)
Something to Think About – March 25, 2016

Image 1: George Floyd. (Photographer unknown)
Image 2: George Floyd being choked to death by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin – Monday, May 25, 2020. The next afternoon it was announced that Chauvin and three other police officers had been fired for their role in Floyd's death. (Photo: Darnella Frazier)

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