Earlier last week, George Floyd, 46, of Minneapolis, was suffocated for eight minutes and 46 seconds under the knee of a White police officer.
For eight minutes and 46 seconds, Floyd, who was already handcuffed and restrained face-down on the ground, pleaded with the now former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, to release the pressure from his neck.
For eight minutes and 46 seconds, Chauvin continued to suffocate Floyd while other officers prevented onlookers from intervening – all because a cashier suspected him of using a counterfeit $20 bill. The money was later identified as authentic.
Floyd’s last words were “I can’t breathe” before he was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
His murder is only the latest instance of racism and police brutality endured by the Black community throughout American history. These intertwined injustices have been left unaddressed for far too long by our country.
The Black community has endured enough oppression. And citizens across the country are responding in protest against Floyd’s murder and those of countless others.
Awareness is being brought to racism and police brutality by these protestors. They are voicing their frustration over why these injustices persist, and they are demanding that action be taken to prevent any more murders.
We stand with the protestors’ cause.
We stand with the Black community.
But we also acknowledge that during these protests, violence and destruction have unfortunately arisen. Property has been damaged and businesses have been looted.
We do not have all the facts about who is instigating this violence, but we do know it does not represent the protest movement, in which the majority of protestors are raising awareness about important societal issues peacefully.
Protesters in Boston, D.C., and throughout cities and towns across the nation – including Framingham – have demonstrated peacefully for hours on end, creating a nationwide discussion on unaddressed racism and police brutality.
We do not condone the destruction and looting that has occurred, but such violence should also not be allowed to overshadow the message of these protests. And it does not represent the Black Lives Matter movement.
Protesters are not going to demonstrations with the intention of causing destruction or participating in looting. At many demonstrations, such as those in New York and Florida, protesters have actively pushed back against looters who are not part of their cause.
But in response to those who do perpetuate violence, the Trump Administration has taken ever-increasing measures against all protestors – including peaceful ones.
At Lafayette Square in Washington D.C., a group of peaceful protestors were tear-gassed away so the President could stage a walk to St. John’s Episcopal Church for a photo op.
While the intent of his photo there may have been to signify an end to the violence, the means the President used to get to the church was the opposite of peaceful.
Trump has threatened to further expand violent police tactics by instituting the Insurrection Act.
This act authorizes the president to deploy U.S. Military troops and federalized National Guard troops within the United States to suppress civil disorder, such as rebellion or insurrection.
That is not the way President Trump should be addressing this situation. He should not be sending the U.S. military to harm the citizens he and our troops are sworn to protect.
He should be listening to the pleas of peaceful protestors, who only ask for action to be taken against systems of injustice that have been perpetuated far too long in this country.
But his administration instead treads upon their right to assemble.
His aggression is drowning out their message and the cycle of racism, police brutality, and murder perpetuated against the Black community is likely to continue.
We must not allow the protestors’ message to be drowned out. We must continue to raise awareness about racism and police brutality until action is taken to end these injustices.
The people of this country are so enraged and exhausted by the injustices the Black community continues to endure that they are going out in the middle of a global pandemic to fight for rights they shouldn’t need to be fought for to begin with – unalienable rights that are enshrined in our founding documents.
This should not even be a conversation. Human rights should be non-negotiable.
We stand with the peaceful protestors who are making a difference.
We stand with Black Lives Matter.
Even if you are not able to participate in a protest, you do not – and should not – have to be silent.
George Floyd suffered for eight minutes and 46 seconds.
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