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I want to share parts of the conversations I’ve had with friends over the past couple days about the footage of George Floyd dying face down on the street under the knee of a police officer in Minnesota. The first is an email from a middle-aged African American businessman. “Dude I gotta tell you the George Floyd incident in Minnesota hurt. I cried when I saw that video. It broke me down. The ‘knee on the neck’ is a metaphor for how the system so cavalierly holds black folks down, ignoring the cries for help. People don’t care. Truly tragic.” Another friend of mine used the powerful song that went viral from 12-year-old Keedron Bryant to describe the frustrations he was feeling. The circumstances of my friend and Keedron may be different, but their anguish is the same. It’s shared by me and millions of others. It’s natural to wish for life “to just get back to normal” as a pandemic and economic crisis upend everything around us. But we have to remember that for millions of Americans, being treated differently on account of race is tragically, painfully, maddeningly “normal” – whether it’s while dealing with the health care system, or interacting with the criminal justice system, or jogging down the street, or just watching birds in a park. This shouldn’t be “normal” in 2020 America. It can’t be “normal.” If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better. It will fall mainly on the officials of Minnesota to ensure that the circumstances surrounding George Floyd’s death are investigated thoroughly and that justice is ultimately done. But it falls on all of us, regardless of our race or station – including the majority of men and women in law enforcement who take pride in doing their tough job the right way, every day – to work together to create a “new normal” in which the legacy of bigotry and unequal treatment no longer infects our institutions or our hearts.
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My heart was sore and tears welled up when I saw the video of George Floyd begging to be able to breathe. The police officer seemed to be smug, enjoying his stolen power over death and life. He hardened his heart to George Floyd’s pleas, his agreement to do what he was asked, and the police officer murdered him. He murdered him, There is no other way to categorize this but murder, caught on camera of an unarmed man who was down on the ground. Yes, race had everything to do with this. Some WHITE and powerful business men cheat people out of the pay they are owed, refuse to pay them the amount agreed upon in contract and retort, “Sue me”. That is fraud with money and he was accused of trying to cash a fraudulent cheque, Note that he was only ACCUSED, and he deserved his day in court. No one would put that powerful political figure and businessman on the ground with a knee to his neck and kill him (this man who committed fraud by creating a fake university that bilked students out of 10’s of thousands of dollars each, yet went to court and pled guilty and paid back a portion of the funds owed). All life matters. All life is precious, and one is not worth more than the other. YET, in this case, George Floyd’s life was taken in minutes, as if it was inconsequential, without reflection of its value, by a man immune to pleas. It makes me sick to my stomach, and very concerned for the society that created police officers who would watch this happen, who stood by. It is a police state when an officer is allowed to take a life, assuming the power of the court to mete our consequences without a fair trial. That police officer assumed the role of judge, jury and executioner based on a mere accusation! A society that allows this to continue is so corrupt that no one is safe. And this is one instance of the inequality of treatment by self-entitled people towards those they consider inferior due to the colour of their skin, the accent of their voice, the smell of the spices used in their foods or the size of their bank accounts.