By David Icke Turner
Art by Teddy Kingpin
We have all bore witness to another needless expression of law enforcement’s systemic disdain for Black lives.
As protests gather in Minneapolis and beyond, one has to wonder where this could lead us given the already precarious nature of recent days. Tear gas and rubber bullets have already been deployed and we are a little more than 72 hours since George Floyd’s untimely death. Yet America has been on the precipice of disaster for some time. We simply have yet to choose our poison. You have a multiplicity of options to choose from when imagining said disaster. Financial, biological, ecological, and political are all favorites for a front-runner. It is a shock we have kept it together this long without our collective animosity manifesting itself in the streets. Our nation is already teetering between normalcy and chaos with the ensuing pandemic and the economic fault lines laid bare in its wake.
Yet these divisions were viciously exacerbated yesterday by a Minneapolis police officer keeping his knee on the neck of a motionless, moaning man at the foot of a squad car. The man, identified as George Floyd, later died. A police statement claimed officers were responding to a “forgery in progress.” (It needs not be explained how a ‘forgery in progress’ sounds ridiculous.) According to Minneapolis PD, “Officers were advised that the suspect was sitting on top of a blue car and appeared to be under the influence.” Eventually, “Two officers arrived and located the suspect, a male believed to be in his 40s, in his car. He was ordered to step out from his car.”
“After he got out, he physically resisted officers. Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress. Officers called for an ambulance.” The statement added “At no time were weapons of any type used by anyone involved in this incident.”
There you have it. Another rinse and repeat statement from law enforcement about how an African-American man died while under their watch after being arrested for alleged, petty crimes.
But what makes this arrest video so utterly disturbing is George Floyd’s gargled screams for help. A man aware of the danger he was in pleading with desperation and sincerity; not unlike the pleas made by Eric Garner that he couldn’t breathe. How does a community react when law enforcement makes it so clear their lives are valued so little? What is a valid response to a member of your community to die with such disregard and heedlessness as having another human’s knee on their neck? Now remember this issue is multiplied across every major metropolitan city. A whole generation of African-American youth have had weekly reminders for the last decade that law enforcement apply little or no value to their lives. This is a recipe for disaster. Then they add insult to injury.
“Two of the officers involved have been “relieved of duty status ” said the Minneapolis PD. The officers are still receiving their checks, but have no work to do. For those of us who are not police officers, this would be called a ‘vacation.’
But again, the video here is so brutal in nature and will have long-lasting effects on the psyche of African-Americans. These painful episodes stack up and eventually will manifest themselves in rage. Unquieted, deserved rage.
The video, captured by Darnella Frazier, begins with George Floyd, groaning and saying “I can’t breathe” to the officer who has his knee on the man’s neck.
“Please,” he says. “I can’t breathe,” and continues to gargle. Another officer keeps insisting he get in the car. “My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Everything hurts. … I need water or something. Please. Please. I can’t breathe, officer. I cannot breathe. I cannot breathe.”
You can’t but help to think that the bystanders were ready to come to Floyd’s aid had the officers not been armed.
“That’s bulls**t, Bro. You’re stopping his breathing right there, Bro. Get him off the ground, Bro. You’re being a bum right now.”
Bystanders says the officer is “enjoying that. He’s a bum, Bro. You could have put him in the car by now. He’s not resisting arrest or nothing. You’re enjoying it. Look at you. Your body language — you bum. You know that’s bogus right now.” “You just really killed that man, Bro,” the male onlooker says to the officer.
Technology has made us all bystanders. We all sat and heard his desperate please. Our hearts broke together as his calls were unheeded. And we all have bore witness to another needless expression of law enforcement’s systemic disdain for Black lives. It’s enough to make you hate the country you call home. And that right there is an indicator of a house divided. Let’s take a quick moment to remember what Lincoln said just before the last time our country was in such a comparable place: “A house divided against itself, cannot stand.”
America’s original sin in the form of its treatment of descendants of former slaves might be the impetus for civil collapse. History is replete with instances of uprisings of minority groups creating the mortal fractures in an empire or republic. Don’t believe me that a small minority can help bring about the end of an empire? Just ask the Persians, Romans, Ottomans, and Soviets about their experiences. The continued subjugation and disregard for Black Americans by state actors very well may be this country’s undoing. Imagine today’s America as it is in pandemic, politically fractured, hemorrhaging GDP, desperately trying to keep pace with China, and then suddenly every major American city is Ferguson circa August 2014.
400 years of brutality and compulsion could create kinetic consequences that lay waste an already vulnerable United States. Our standing in the world has declined, our manufacturing base is gone, and this global pandemic has hit us conspicuously harder than just about everyone else. Half of our country hates the other half with just a few of us in the middle that they both hate. racial tensions and violence just might be the thing that makes this whole shit-sandwich unravel. How cosmic would the dissolution of Pax Americana at the hands of one of its first victims be ?
Of course, this seemed like an unlikely scenario until we heard George Floyd’s desperate pleas for help. Will anyone hear y(our) cries for help?
All of this has built up frustrations in the black community that makes the black community throughout America today more explosive than all of the atomic bombs the Russians can ever invent. Whenever you got a racial powder keg sitting in your lap, you’re in more trouble than if you had an atomic powder keg sitting in your lap. When a racial powder keg goes off, it doesn’t care who it knocks out the way. Understand this, it’s dangerous. –Malcolm X, the Ballot or The Bullet King Solomon Baptist Church, Detroit, Michigan – April 12, 1964
Moral of the story: Police should be on the front lines of ending police brutality or America might be finished. Not a threat, only a promise.