We watched another Black man get murdered at the hands of the police. George Floyd told the officer who had his knee on his neck “I can’t breathe.” Fellow civilians on the street demanded that the cop, Derek Chauvin, take his knee off. Three officers along with people on the street watched Floyd take his last breath. They watched him be murdered with no remorse. They watched him as he laid on the floor continuously saying, “I can’t breathe.” The death of Floyd sparked protests in all 50 states of the United States and other countries, with millions of people taking to the streets for the Black Lives Matter movement and an end to the police. The police have been a violent force threatening Black lives for decades. Therefore, the people have decided that the only solution is to defund the police and redistribute those funds to community based organizations.
Unfortunately, Floyd was not the first Black sibling we’ve lost at the hands of violent, racist police. In California alone, over 600 people have been killed by cops in 6 years. People are outraged and have had enough of the police not being held accountable for their misconduct and murders. People have not seen any real change within the police system since it was founded.
The issue of policing runs deep within our racist system since police forces in this country were initially conceived as slave patrols. Due to the racist roots of the police institution, there is a never ending pattern of racist cops joining the force, not being held accountable for their actions and shirking the responsibility of being held at a higher standard because of their duties.
Millions have been spent on reform, with little to no change. As American political activist Angela Davis would say, we must grasp this issue at the root. Police unions and contracts have been protecting cops from crimes they’ve committed. In many states, unions allow cops to take up to 24 hours to write a statement and allow them to view any evidence that may be used against them when they’re under investigation for any misconduct. This can allow cops to easily fabricate their stories within the time given. Such privilege should not be given to any law enforcement personnel who has committed any kind of misconduct. It is important to remember that this applies in murder cases as well.
It is almost impossible to sue a cop for murder. But on the slim chance a lawsuit succeeds, it is improbable that the cop will actually be convicted. Of the 7,666 times that police officers killed people in the U.S. between 2013 and 2019, only 25 cases (0.3%) resulted in a conviction. 74 cases (1%) resulted in a charge but no conviction. Looking at those statistics should make you angry. Furthermore, it should make you want to support the protests, rather than criticize them, as the anger of protestors is warranted. The murder of Black folks at the hands of the police is genocide. It is a genocide with no accountability.
As non-Black people, we have privileges under a police-run state. We must use that privilege to continue to be allies to the Black community and not only when a tragedy occurs. Being an ally includes addressing anti-Blackness within your own community and institutions. We must stand by and amplify Black voices everyday. We must stand for justice until every form of racism is dismantled and served for the Black community.
In hopes of helping non-black visualize and understand black struggle, below is a poem titled ______ written by Deenie Al-Amin, a 17-year-old Black man residing in San Diego. Remember to be mindful, support and check in on Black people in your communities.
Black men in America haven’t had much luck yet, Hoodie and some nikes on, And somehow I’m a suspect, It’s crazy how they systematically oppress us because of our skin tone, They teachyoung black children that theirs skins wrong, And the urge for freedom and equal rights have been long,
Now imagine what black people have to struggle with day to day And I’m lucky to still be okay But I can’t say that for George Floyd or Breonna Taylor They got their life taken away And for what? Being black? And some y’all okay with that Constantly racist people killing black men But they say they’re not racist Calling the cops on us for walking in the park But they say they’re not racist They see the death of my brothers and sisters And don’t say nothing but…I’m not racist This has been occurring for too long I’m starting to think It’s a broken record The way it keeps going on and on
Now let my story be evidence for you That the struggle of black people is evidently true Some of y’all don’t know the definition of racism, But before this neither did I, But a cop saw me as a suspect when I did nothing wrong But I’m just an innocent kid, he’s the one with the firearm, but that’s not really important, what is, is the physical abuse, and torment, y’all say life’s tough, imagine being kicked and spit on while being in handcuffs, being ripped of your bravery and your words, being kicked to the curb,
And being treated a way that a black kid doesn’t deserve
Kholood (Lulu) Alshami is a Contributing Writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.