By: Roy Douglas Malonson
On May 25, 2020, Derek Chauvin decided that a “Black Life Didn’t Matter,” but on April 20, 2021, a jury of “his peers” decided that it did.
The cold-blooded killer was found guilty in the death of George Perry Floyd Jr., and cheers erupted around the nation. A Black man who grew up in Houston, Texas helped change the world, and with his last breath, he may have just possibly saved the lives of so many others.
Last year, Floyd allegedly passed a counterfeit $20 bill to a clerk at a Minneapolis convenience store. The clerk called police and Chauvin was one of four police officers who arrived at the scene. After a bit of resistance, Floyd was placed on the ground, with Chauvin placing his knee on Floyd’s neck and the other officers leaning on his back.
For 9 minutes and 29 seconds, the officers remained there, as Floyd first begged for air and, more so, begged for mercy as a crowd of bystanders gathered, horrified and helpless.
The crowd begged the officers to get off Floyd, who began calling out for his deceased mother to help him. Chauvin looked directly at the onlookers and into their recording cellphones, refusing to remove his knee off Floyd’s neck until the Black man stopped breathing.
Nothing seemed to make him move, and the devilish eyes of Chauvin glaring into the cameras, unflinching as Floyd experienced his final moments on Earth, sent chills down the spines of anyone with a heart.
Houston became front and center in the controversy, as Floyd grew up in Houston and most of his family still lives here.
Floyd attended Jack Yates High School, playing football and basketball throughout high school and college. He was a hip-hop artist and served as a mentor in his religious community. Between 1997 and 2005, he had a few run-ins with the law, and in 2014, he moved to the Minneapolis area, residing in the nearby suburb of St. Louis Park, and worked as a truck driver and bouncer. In 2020, he lost his job as a truck driver, and then his security job during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When he woke up to start his day that May 25th, he certainly had no idea he would become a martyr whose life and death would spark a movement – on a path to win.
After the videos of Floyd’s death went viral, it became undeniable the brutality and racism Blacks suffered at the hands of law enforcement. Protests against police brutality, especially towards Black people, quickly spread across the United States and around the world. Chauvin, who obviously felt he was untouchable, was arrested and charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The 45-year-old rogue cop pleaded not guilty, and his trial began on March 8. His defense said his actions were justified, but the jury disagreed.
Six white, four Black and two multiracial jurors reached a unanimous verdict of guilty on all three charges; a historic verdict because police usually receive little punishment when it comes to killing Blacks. Chauvin sat silent, only blinking in disbelief, and was escorted out in handcuffs. We must now await his sentencing hearing.
The City of Minneapolis settled a wrongful death lawsuit with Floyd’s family for $27 million, and the trial of the other three officers involved in Floyd’s death is scheduled for August.
But while we celebrate, we must ask ourselves, is this enough? Will Chauvin’s conviction send a clear message to other White racist cops? Will they understand that they can’t shoot us with no regard merely because they are “afraid” or “intimidated” of nothing more than our sheer presence?
Blacks have been being lynched by Whites ever since we were kidnapped and brought to this country. First, they steal us, then they fear us, then they kill us — weak men hiding behind white cloaks and blue badges. The media has been one of the only methods we’ve used to prove what we’ve been going through but before Floyd’s death, even with the proof, our killers have primarily been let free.
In 1955, 14-year-old Emmett Till was tortured and murdered in Mississippi. His mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, demanded his body be returned to Chicago and that he lie in an open casket for the world to see what happened. Photos of the mutilated teen galvanized outrage and served as a catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement.
Floyd’s brother, Philonise, has bonded with Emmett’s family, showing support of one another during these difficult times.
“To me, he was the first George Floyd,” Philonise Floyd said.
But in this AmeriKKKa we’ve been forced to live in, who will be the last?
In honor of Emmett and George, we list the names of so many others who died senselessly at the hands of those who would rather kill us, than get to know and understand us. We will continue to shout from every spot on the globe that Black Lives Matter!
The universe shrank
when you went away.
Every time I thought your name,
stars fell upon me.
— Henry Dumas (poet, social activist, teacher)
SAY THEIR NAMES: Emmett Till, James Byrd, Daunte Wright, Ma’Khia Bryant, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Alton Sterling, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Freddie Gray, Janisha Fonville, Michelle Cusseaux, Akai Gurley, Gabriella Nevarez, Sandra Bland, Tanisha Anderson, Rayshard Brooks, Daniel Prude, Atatiana Jefferson, Aura Rosser, Stephon Clark, Botham Jean, Philando Castile, Marvin Scott III, Patrick Warren, Vincent Belmonte, Angelo Quinto, Andre Hill, Casey Goodson Jr., Angelo “AJ” Crooms, Sincere Pierce, Marcellis Stinnette, Jonathan Price, Dijon Kizzee, Carlos Carson, David McAtee. Tony “Tony the TIger” McDade, Dreasjon Reed, Michael Ramos, Manuel “Mannie” Ellis, William Green, John Neville, Elijah McClain, Ronald Greene, Javier Ambler, Sterling Higgins, Gregory Edwards, Emantic “EJ” Bradford Jr., Charles “Chop” Roundtree Jr., Chinedu Okobi, Anton Black, Antwon Rose Jr., Saheed Vassell, Dennis Plowden Jr., Bijan Ghaisar, Aaron Bailey, Charleena Lyles, Jordan Edwards, Chad Robertson, Deborah Danner, Alfred Olango, Terence Crutcher, Terrence Sterling, Korryn Gaines, Joseph Mann, Bettie “Betty Boo” Jones, Quintonio LeGrier, Corey Jones, Jamar O’Neal Clark, Jeremy “Bam Bam” McDole, India Kager, Samuel Vincent DuBose, Brendon Glenn, Walter Scott, Eric Courtney Harris, Phillip White, Mya Hall, Meagan Hockaday, Tony Robinson, Natasha McKenna, Jerame Reid, Rumain Brisbon, Dante Parker, Ezell Ford, John Crawford III, Tyree Woodson, Dontre Hamilton, Victor White III, Yvette Smith, McKenzie J. Cochran, Jordan Baker, Andy Lopez, Miriam Iris Carey, Barrington “BJ” Williams, Jonathan Ferrell, Carlos Alcis, Larry Jackson Jr., Kyam Livingston, Clinton Allen, Kimani “KiKi” Gray, Kayla Moore, Jamaal Moore Sr., Johnnie Warren, Shelly Frey, Darnisha Harris, Timothy Russell, Malissa Williams, Noel Palanco, Reynaldo Cuevas, Chavis Carter, Alesia Thomas, Shantel Davis, Sharmel T. Edwards, Tamon Robinson, Ervin Lee Jefferson III, Kendrec McDade, Rekia Boyd, Shereese Francis, Jersey K. Green, Jersey Green, Wendell Allen, Nehemiah Dillard, Dante’ Price, Raymond Allen Jr., Manual Loggins Jr., Ramarley Graham, Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., Alonzo Ashley, Derek Williams, Raheim Brown, Jr., Reginald Doucet, Derrick Jones, Danroy “DJ” Henry Jr., Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Steven Washington, Aaron Campbell, Kiwane Carrington, Victor Steen, Shem Walker, Oscar Grant III, Tarika Wilson, DeAunta Farrow, Sean Bell, Kathryn Johnston, Ronald Madison, James Brissette Jr., Henry “Ace” Glover, Timothy Stansbury, Jr., Ousmane Zongo, Alberta Spruill, Kendra Sarie James, Orlando Barlow, Nelson Mendez, Timothy Thomas Jr., Ronald Beasley, Earl Murray, Patrick Dorismond, Prince Jones Jr., Malcolm Ferguson, LaTanya Haggerty, Margaret Mitchell, Amadou Diallo, Tyisha Shenee Miller, Dannette “Strawberry” Daniels, Frankie Ann Perkins, Nicholas Heyward Jr., Mary Mitchell, Yvonne Smallwood, Eleanor Bumpers, Michael Stewart, Eula Mae Love, Arthur Miller Jr., Randolph Evans, Barry Gene Evans, Rita Lloyd, Henry Dumas, and countless others.