A tragic story, isn’t it? But in my summary a fundamental fact is missing: George Floyd is a man of color. And his death is by no means an isolated case.
According to the statistical research agency Police Violence mapping in 2019 the police in the United States it killed about 1100 people. Black people represent about the 24% of deaths, despite their presence in the country does not exceed 15% of the population. The probability that a black person will be killed by law enforcement is triple compared to the same fate for white people. And double if we refer to the community Hispanicthat is, those not really black, but annoyingly too dark for some racist with the badge.
Between 2013 and 2019, according to the report, in very few cases a killing by the police followed formal accusations or processes. As reported by CNN, however, Floyd’s family raised an important request, supported by protest committees across the country and by the movement Black Lives Matter: the four agents involved in this matter should be accused of murder. Justice will then take its course on the basis of videos recorded by witnesses and surveillance cameras, which to date seem to conflict with the police reports.
As per the textbook, the reaction of the Minneapolis Police Federation was far from outraged: “This is not the time to hasten the judgments and convict our agents immediately. ” Now, let’s dwell on these words. It is still unknown whether Floyd was having other types of pain or physical problems due to the altered state, a police officer remained having spent five minutes with his knee on the neck of an unarmed man who imploring to have some oxygen. It was a passerby who pointed out that Floyd was bleeding from his nose and was immobile.
The problem may not have been only medical, as the police have classified, but also cultural, with a precise matrix. In addition to racism, there was a good dose of violence that even in our house has hurt many, since Stefano Cucchi to Federico Aldrovandi, passing through Riccardo Uva and for all the victims of what they call in America police brutality. And perhaps it makes the idea more than our “abuse of power” formula, because of brutality it deals with.
For many black people meeting a police officer is accompanied by a feeling of terror. According to a study published in 2018 in the medical journal The Lancet news reporting episodes of law enforcement violence against a black person progressively damages the mental health of the whole community. The same type of reaction is not found in white subjects who, however sorry or worried, do not seem to have an impact on the perception of their own safety and well-being.
After Floyd’s case, some images of two of the agents involved circulating on social media, wearing the typical hat of the president’s supporters Trump, with the words “Make America Great Again”. This is not verified news, but the worrying fact is that such a thing it wouldn’t surprise us at all. As if we had resigned ourselves to news like this in America of the most racist president ever.
Perhaps this same sad thought made every single passerby stop to shoot the scene, or to be surprised from a distance. They could have, in three, in four, in ten, remove the officer who was killing Floyd. They could have shouted like crazy, they could have leveraged the other agents present. They could have, and instead managed to normalize, a tolerate a similar scene until it was too late. They must have thought “they are still policemen, they know what they are doing”. But the justice he does not always wear a uniform and often needs anger to fulfill himself.