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George Floyd is our Emmet Till

From the Desk of Susan Townley

Chauvin’s defense attorney is painting a picture of the death of George Floyd in which the behavior of the ‘mob’ surrounding the police SUV made it impossible for all of the police to assist in retaining him.  First and foremost:  George Floyd never needed to be forcefully retained.  Both of his hands were on the wheel when he saw the police who were approaching with guns drawn.  Why were their guns drawn and held high when the call was about a counterfeit $20?  Having the guns pointed may have triggered the anxiety attack that the police seemed to take as resistance rather than a biological response to the very real threat they posed to him.


The police issued commands and insisted that all obey them.  They expected Floyd to hear what they said, but they did not listen to what he said.  Had they listened to what he said, they might have understood that he was not resisting them, but that he suffered from claustrophobia. By crowding him as they did, they made the claustrophobia worse and it seems to have triggered a panic reaction.


The defense lawyer implies that the White police officers are fearful of people of color.  This is part of the explanation for the police officers’ behavior towards the crowd that gathered on seeing that the treatment of George Floyd was inhuman.  As human beings of different races, age groups, and genders these peoples could not walk by.  They had to stop and try to intervene.  When their interventions were met with threats from the police including the use of Mace, they stood their ground and witnessed the murder of a fellow human being.


I believe that Chauvin wanted to kill George Floyd.  He took pleasure in mastering this large Black man he considered as less than human.  He stood there bearing down with his knees, his left hand in his pocket, or on his thigh, and the hint of a smile on his face.  He would not stop for anyone.  He would not stop even after he knew George Floyd was dead.  That Derek Chauvin cannot recognize and acknowledge his guilt leads me to suspect that he is a sociopath.  How is it that the police force could employ such a dangerous man?


I pray that George Floyd knew in his agony that a crowd of witnesses gathered to lend assistance.  He was not abandoned by his fellow human beings.  Because of those witnesses, people who were going about their daily lives, recorded the events there is the opportunity to change the world.  That is our job.  George Floyd is our Emmett Till.


I hoped the lawyer for the defense would stop blaming everyone but the police officers involved in the travesty.  The martial arts teacher who was highly vocal was taken over the coals as if it was his fault as if it was Chauvin’s brothers in blue would pull him off the man he was killing.


This lawyer says that these police officers were afraid of the crowd that was forming.  There were a number of responses the officers could have made to remedy the situation:  they could have pulled Chauvin off Floyd, the man he seemed to be taking pleasure in murdering; they could have called for back up for crowd management.  My observation of the video is at that moment the crowd was not threatening the police, it was expressing its concern for George Floyd and its outrage at the way he was being battered.  I was personally impressed by how eloquent the crowd was.  I also found it remarkable how Chauvin’s threat to use the pepper spray prevented anyone from trying to intervene because they would be incapacitated and unable to bring aid to George Floyd.


What had George Floyd done that so angered Derek Chauvin?  Why did Derek Chauvin’s brother officers allow him to kill George Floyd as they stood around and watched?  Why do White lawyers defend White cops by describing the Black human beings they murder as if they were less than beasts?



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