He Couldn’t Breathe….

By: Skylar Ribotsky 

 

On Monday night at around eight o’clock, in Minneapolis on Chicago Avenue, George Floyd, took his last breaths. Floyd was handcuffed, pinned to the ground with officer Chauvin’s knee in his neck, pleading for his life and saying he couldn’t breathe, though the officer did not move from on top of Floyd. Pedestrians who saw this act of violence and stopped in their tracks are heard in the video that went viral, saying that his nose was bleeding, that he couldn’t breathe, and begging the officer to get off of him, but he didn’t.

How did we get here?  Well, on Monday evening the Minneapolis Police were called by an employee of the Cup Foods grocery store alleging that George Floyd used a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill. In the state of Minnesota, the use of counterfeit money above five hundred dollars would result in five years in jail and ten thousand dollars in fines. Twenty dollars and five hundred dollars is a huge difference. So, five hundred dollars would lead one behind bars for five years, but the alleged twenty should be George Floyd’s death sentence?

It states in police reports by the two officers who first arrested Floyd, that he resisted arrest, the surveillance footage that captured this entire part of the event has since been released and we now know Floyd never once resisted arrest. So why did the two other police officers, Tao Thou and Derek Chauvin, need to come to the scene?  Does that seem necessary to anyone?

Thou and Chauvin took George Floyd to Chicago Avenue, which was around the corner from where he was arrested because that is where their squad car was located. This is where they pinned a handcuffed George Floyd to the ground, and to make sure he couldn’t move, officer Derek Chauvin placed his knee on George Floyd’s neck. As pedestrians walked by, they stopped in their tracks and one pedestrian decided to go on Facebook Live.  That video has since gone viral. In the video, you can hear Floyd continuously pleading with the officer saying the now-famous words, “I can’t breathe.” You also hear onlookers begging the officer to get off of George Floyd, but he never moved. After several minutes of pleading from Floyd stop, you then see him become visibly limp and unconscious under the knee of officer Derek Chauvin.

Benjamin Crump, the attorney representing Floyd’s family stated, “this abusive, excessive, and inhumane use of force cost the life of a man who was being detained by the police for questioning about a non-violent charge.” Let that soak in. How is it up to the discretion of individuals such as Chauvin to keep people safe? Police officers are not to use force that could seriously injure or lead to one’s death. But that is exactly what officer Derek Chauvin did.  It was later announced that the very technique that was used to pin Floyd’s head to the ground is against department regulations. To add to the list of misconduct, when the police officers called EMS they did not say code 3, which is the code used when there is a life-threatening situation occurring, so when they got there they did not realize the severity of what was going on. It is said by civilians that were at the scene that even as they were waiting for the EMS to arrive, officer Chauvin never moved his knee.  Did he think that Floyd was capable of moving?

As police officers, it is their duty to serve the people of their community but by not telling the full truth about Floyd’s condition they wasted too much time as additional first responders had to come once the first crew was already there. Ultimately too much time had passed, and these officers acted as if they had all the time in the world, as George Floyd died from the cruel and inhumane treatment he received.   The police officers were violent and reckless with the life of George Floyd and they tore apart the integrity of the position that they were supposed to uphold.

From the time the ambulance arrived at the scene, Floyd already was without a pulse, and it is said that his condition never changed.  According to Minneapolis Fire Department, “paramedics moved Floyd from the location and were doing chest compressions and other life-saving measures on an ‘unresponsive, pulseless male.”  officer Thou and Chauvin decided Floyd’s fate when they acted recklessly and with malice in regard to a man’s life. At 9:25 pm on Monday night, George Floyd was pronounced dead at the Hennepin County Medical Center.

The image of a white male police officer on top of an unconscious black man in the 21st century is disturbing. The extreme actions that were taken over an alleged crime are scary.  Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? Those officers just assumed that George Floyd was guilty because of the color of his skin. Does Derek Chauvin think that because he is a white man that he is above anyone else? Does he think that it saves him from being a bad person? Ladies and gentlemen, since 2006, Chauvin has been reviewed for three shootings as well as since December 2012, officers Chauvin and Thao have a combined 13 complaints.   They have both been accused of having a cruel disregard for the victims of crimes, failure to file a report when a crime was alleged, and using an unnecessary amount of force to make an arrest. Are these the people we are supposed to trust to protect us and our communities?

We preach tolerance and acceptance to our children, but we do not practice those same ideologies. It is the very intolerance of people like Derek Chauvin and Tao Thao that is suffocating this nation.  The place where it was once believed that you were free, the place where your wildest dreams were attainable.  Since Floyd’s death many close to him have spoken out about his character, he was described by many as a “gentle giant.” Those close to Floyd also stated that he moved to Minneapolis to start over, to make a better life for him and his family, to achieve the American dream and that was stripped from him because of the color of his skin.

So often we say ‘Never Again’ when senseless actions take place, those are not just words, they are a call to action.  Tao Thao and Derek Chauvin and the other two officers who initially arrested Floyd, shame on you.  We await justice being served.   To the American people, let this be the tipping point, may we not just say enough is enough but show it in our actions. May the color of one’s skin NEVER AGAIN be a death sentence. May America be the place it has always had the potential to be, where every single person of every race is free to achieve the American dream, and more so has the right to their own destiny. May we never let George Floyd be just another name.

Our deepest condolences go out to Floyd’s friends and family, may his children carry on his legacy. Rest in Peace, George Floyd.

#hecouldn’tbreathe #GeorgeFloyd #EnoughisEnough

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