Let’s be clear here from the start.
George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer.
This wasn’t a botched arrest, or a pre-existing condition. He was pinned to the ground by the neck, suffocated under the weight of another man who could have decided at any time to listen to his cries for help, but instead decided to stay in place until all breathing had stopped.
When George Floyd was loaded into the ambulance he was already dead, but he would have been alive if the officer who killed him hadn’t taken the action he decided to take.
George’s story is one we’ve heard before, a tragic re-telling of the American racist narrative, that black men are more likely to be killed by police officers than any other person — not because they’re more likely to commit a crime, but because officers have been trained to expect they can get away with it.
But while the streets of Minneapolis rage and people demand justice, there’s a deeper tragedy to consider; a primordial fear that minorities have — had somebody leapt to Geoge Lloyd’s defense and thrown that officer off him, they would have also been victimized, or killed.
The video capturing George’s murder should prove two facts: that George was murdered, and that there were bystanders who felt helpless to do anything about it. People were screaming at the officer to get off, to let George breathe, but none trusted that they could intervene to save another human being’s life without suffering some grave consequence. The failure to act wasn’t the result of something lacking, but was the side effect of a deep, troubling fear of law enforcement and the justice system as a whole.
The real tragedy of George Lloyd’s murder is that it proves how deep the distrust many Americans have in our justice system goes. That a police officer can murder a man in the streets is a shame, but for them to do it while others are watching is a nightmare.