I Can’t Breathe

Remembering George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Collins Khosa and Ahmaud Arbery

My mind has been in a tangle following the events that resulted in the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police on 25 May 2020. My mind keeps on picturing that arrogant and callous cop with his hands in his pockets while kneeling on the neck of the cuffed George Floyd. A part of me gets really angry when I see this nonchalant abuse of power by somebody who is supposed to ensure/enforce “law and order”. 

As expected there were demonstrations and protests and those rapidly degenerated into riots. Once a lawless mob becomes intent on destruction,  “authority” gives the order to pull the trigger, shots will get fired, innocent people end up being killed, shops get looted, allegations are made from both sides and it becomes a counter productive exercise. It achieves nothing. George Floyd would have deplored the violence committed in his name, but a portion of the population would hope that the triggers would be pulled. This brings us back to racism: is there a campaign against African Americans? Is there some unwritten rule/policy that says “they are black and male and therefore are guilty”? In February this year Ahmaud Arbery was killed while out jogging in Georgia. If he was seemingly perceived as a threat or possible burglar why were the police not called? and had they been called would he have been arrested automatically and “questioned” later? What gave those who shot him the right to be judge, jury and executioner? 

It is a difficult situation at this point in time, my gut instinct says that saner heads need to prevail. Sanity must be restored. The death of George Floyd must be impartially investigated and the former cop who knelt on his neck needs to feel the might of justice upon him. Right or wrong whoever decided that it was police policy to kneel on the neck of a restrained suspect needs to be on the receiving end of a knee for 8 minutes. A preliminary autopsy found no indication that George Floyd died of strangulation or traumatic asphyxia, but that the combined effects of being restrained, underlying health conditions, including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease, and potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death.  Until an independent autopsy is performed I will distrust those findings.  

The death of George Floyd should make us all angry, or should I rather say makes many of us angry because there will always be a group that gets a vicarious thrill out of an incident like that. They will nod knowingly and agree that he was a bad man whom the police had rightly prevented from doing a heinous crime. Those people scare me because I have met their ilk before, I often read their ravings on social media, I walk past them in the streets, I see them gloating as they polish their AR15’s. I saw them shoot Jews in black and white documentaries from World War 2. It is the ugly face of humanity, a face that will always be with us until the next incident, and the next, and the next ad infinitum.  

Racism in any form is never okay and should never be tolerated. We no longer live in the dark ages. We live in a word beset by a global pandemic, it can kill us all irrespective of whether we are policemen or bystanders. That tiny virus is more dangerous than any police force,  it can kill us all and just maybe it should. 

In South Africa the SANDF and JMP members responsible for the tragic death of Collins Khosa were cleared of any wrong doing. However, the facts seem to be contradictory to the findings and yet another man has lost his life, not through Covid-19, but through the hands of those tasked with “law and order”.  

**Update 02/06/2020**

The independent autopsy report “determined that asphyxiation from sustained pressure was the cause” of Mr Floyd’s death.  The autopsy performed by Dr Michael Baden and Dr Allecia Wilson said “neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain” according to Mr Crump’s statement. Furthermore, the doctors found the “weight on the back, handcuffs and positioning were contributory factors because they impaired the ability of Mr. Floyd’s diaphragm to function“.  (Express, published20:29, Mon, Jun 1, 2020)

DRW 2020. Created 01/06/2020