My family and I live in the Minneapolis suburbs about 17 miles from where George Floyd was murdered. Like many, I saw the video of the police officer kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and forty-six seconds. It was cruel. It was inhumane. It was unnecessary. I wondered how many times that police officer used that same tactic on how many different necks, and how many of those necks were those of persons of color.
My neighborhood saw no protests, save for the one house that displayed a “Black Lives Matter” sign and other houses that wrote it in chalk on their driveways, or put homemade signs in the windows. One house wrote it as “Black livs matr:” obviously the work of children trying to make sense of everything.
When my wife and I were out for a walk recently, we noticed that the neighbor’s sign had been removed, along with the “Justice for George Floyd” sign that was on the same lawn. It would not have surprised if that sign was taken by someone in an act of passive-aggression.
What we’re trying to make sense of is both the murder and the violence that followed. During the height of the riots, there were rumors that rioters were going to spread out to the suburbs because all of the stores in Minneapolis had been destroyed. Of course, some of those rumors were spread on NextDoor – which is a site where one goes to wonder if they should call the police on an unmarked delivery van driven by a person of color. Seriously.
The police, armed to the teeth, seem to not have been trained in the art of de-escalation when their own actions are called into question. You’ve seen the videos of police instigating violence with pepper spray, rubber bullets, tear gas and good old-fashioned clubbing. Somehow, the police acted under the assumption that there would be no consequences and that they would not be held accountable. But it raises the question, why weren’t the armed white people marching on state houses in order to open restaurants, bars and barbershops met with the same show of force?
I’ve heard it said that in the voiceover business it’s best to cast aside politics. This is a time when that is complete nonsense. It’s clear that something needs to change and there is a groundswell of support to change it. The nature of police work has to fundamentally change. But how?