Floyd killing proves racism issue alive in US
The killing of 46-year-old George Floyd while in police custody in the city of Minneapolis is just the latest in a long line of killings of unarmed African Americans by US police officers and members of the public and certainly should be denounced. In UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet’s words: “I am dismayed to have to add George Floyd’s name to that of Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and many other unarmed African Americans who have died over the years at the hands of the police – as well as people such as Ahmaud Arbery and Trayvon Martin who were killed by armed members of the public.” The authorities in the United States need to initiate tough and serious action to stop such mindless killings and ensure that justice is done when they do occur. The announcement by Federal authorities in Washington that they would be prioritising an investigation into the incident does sound the correct step, but as the UN human rights chief points out, in too many cases in the past, such investigations have led to killings being deemed justified on questionable grounds, or only being addressed by administrative measures. Video captured at the scene on Monday, and posted on social media, shows a white police officer, using his knee to pin Floyd to the ground over the course of several minutes. Four officers involved in the incident have been dismissed. The situation has become volatile with President Donald Trump threatening to take action to bring the city of Minneapolis “under control,” calling violent protesters outraged by the death of a black man in police custody “thugs” and saying that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Trump tweeted after protesters torched a Minneapolis police station and destroyed other property, capping three days of violence over the death of George Floyd. In another condemnable action, the Minnesota State Patrol on Friday arrested a CNN television crew as they reported on violent protests in Minneapolis following the death of George Floyd. Atlanta-based CNN said that the crew, which included CNN reporter Omar Jimenez, was released later. While live on air, Jimenez was handcuffed and led away. A producer and a photojournalist for CNN were also led away in handcuffs. This prompted CNN’s communications team to mention on Twitter that the crew was arrested “for doing their jobs, despite identifying themselves – a clear violation of their First Amendment rights.”
The Floyd case is reminiscent of the 2014 killing of Eric Garner, an unarmed man in New York City who died after being put in a banned police chokehold as he, too, was heard to mutter, “I can’t breathe.” Garner’s dying words became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement that formed amid a wave of killings of African-Americans by police. There is a dire need for a halt to racial profiling by US law enforcement officers and a review of laws allowing police to use lethal force. A serious review of US police practices will go a long way in improving the situation. Many see the recent events as a pattern of misuse of lethal force against minority groups. Human rights, freedom and equality are words that Washington regularly use when it comes to preaching other countries. Now that there is some aberration back home, it better make necessary corrections.