"When injustices around the world are screaming 'your life is of no value', the Church cannot remain silent. Apathy makes excuses. Love finds a way." (Nicky Gumbel)
Racism is a vile worm that continues to eat away at the soul of humanity. I don't think any right-thinking person can watch the video of the way in which George Floyd died without raging for justice.
44 year old Derek Chauvin, was a policeman in the Minneapolis Police Department - a police department in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, whose motto is: 'To Protect with Courage, To Serve with Compassion!' Read Wikipedia for information about the racism that seems to permeate that Department.
For almost eight minutes Chauvin kneeled on the neck of 46 year old George Floyd, on Monday 25 May, 2020. Floyd was handcuffed, lying on his stomach, his nose bleeding. He pleaded to be able to breathe; for water. Without an ounce of humanity, three of Chauvin's Police colleagues, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J Alexander Kueng, stood around, apparently complicit in this dastardly act, while bystanders pleaded for Chauvin to get off Floyd's neck.
The last words we hear from the dying George is: "Momma!" he calls out. "Momma! I'm through." Author Lonnae O'Neal writes: "A call to your mother is a prayer to be seen. Floyd's mother died two years ago, but he used her as a sacred invocation. 'He is a human being!' comes an anguished plea from someone in a desperate attempt to engage the officers' reason or compassion or oaths of office. But in that moment, those officers are beyond the reach of humanity. Not Floyd's, but their own...I heard this black man had called out to his momma as he lay dying, and I too am a black mother. One of the ones since time immemorial who have to answer the sacred call."
Floyd died later in hospital. Leslie Redmond, president of the Minneapolis chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) said: "What we saw was a public lynching without a rope. Enough is enough. We are done dying. We want to see them prosecuted...What we are seeing is a violation of Black people's human rights. Our humanity has always been denied on American soil."
The four officers were fired. At the time of writing only Chauvin has been charged - with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter! And while the FBI is investigating the incident, thank God for modern technology. As Will Smith wrote: "Racism is not getting worse; it's getting filmed."
Security camera footage and the footage of the many persons present, put paid to the lie of the officers that Floyd was resisting arrest. Overcome with grief, Floyd's family are rightly calling for criminal charges to be laid against the four officers.
Firing the four officers is not enough. And while the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehensive (BCA) and the FBI are both investigating the incident, thank God for modern technology. As Will Smith wrote: "Racism is not getting worse; it's getting filmed." Security camera footage and the footage of the many who filmed what many view as "murder", put paid to the lie of the officers that Floyd was resisting arrest. Overcome with grief, Floyd's family are rightly calling for criminal charges to be laid against the four officers.
And thank God Christian Cooper, the African-American man who was the victim of a racially-motivated call to the police, had been filming the incident last week involving, Amy Cooper, who was fired from her job when his one-minute video-clip went viral. All he did was ask her to put her dog on a leash in a part of Central Park, NY, where it is mandatory for dogs to be on leashes. Here is a woman who held a senior position in a large investment management Company. Racism is so endemic, that she knew exactly what she was doing when she told him: "I'm going to tell them there's an African American man threatening my life".
As Zeba Blay said: "And she did, whining hysterically, emphasising the fact that her so-called attacker was African American...What was clear in her words and how she used them was that she didn't actually feel physically threatened - rather, she was wielding her privilege as a white woman with the knowledge that accusing a Black man of violence was a weapon against him."
The city's Commission on Human Rights has said: "Efforts to intimidate Black people by threatening to call law enforcement draw on a long, violent and painful history, and they are unacceptable."
We remember in prayer Eric Garner and the countless other black people who have been killed by police, and by racist persons in the USA and elsewhere. I spent years in the UK combatting racism e.g. as Co-Chair of Britain's Anti-Racist Cross-Party Alliance. Individual and institutional/systemic racism continue to be threats to global peace. Let's denounce racism and unite against this scourge.
Leela Ramdeen is Chair of the Catholic Commission for Social Justice in the Archdiocese of Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, (CCSJ) and Director of CREDI
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