The murder of George Floyd by Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis was nothing new. Unarmed Black men have been persecuted by law enforcement for what seems like forever. I don’t know a world where this type of violence doesn’t exist. From movies to personal experiences etched in my mind, for a Black person, George Floyd’s story is all too familiar. What is new is the climate that could allow such an aftermath. The cloak of COVID-19 makes the current uprisings in Minneapolis especially dangerous, as the global pandemic claims a disproportionate amount of our people by itself.
I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I’ve lived here since 2017. For me, it’s been much quieter than the Chicago metropolis, which has allowed me the time to reflect and focus on myself. However, I can no longer think of myself in the wake of George Floyd’s senseless murder. Last Monday, May 25, was the first we’d heard of it. Everyone in my home was stunned; I refuse to watch the video, but I know what happened. And having this occur approximately 15 minutes from where I live was sickening.
During the next two days, Minneapolis morphed before my very eyes. The Minneapolis Police Department firmly exposed themselves as agents of oppression, and peaceful protests turned into a budding race war. The narrative speaks old volumes: Blacks are mad and are tearing down their own neighborhoods. While looting and rioting are byproducts of protesting, they are not the meat of the matter. Our people are mad, our communities are tired, and instead of allowing us the space and time to properly mourn Floyd, we were given tear gas and food deserts. Peaceful protests quickly turned into police vs. the people, with outside agitators jumping into the effort.
Minneapolis is a powder keg that has blown. It will never be the same. Instead of arresting Chauvin right away, authorities waited, and the city imploded. The other three officers involved in Floyd’s murder have not been arrested. We await that as well. While other cities nationwide are taking up the same sentiments, the story is unfolding the wrong way. It is on my heart to help educate folks on what’s truly going on.
I believe that anarchists, white supremacist groups and good ole Trump loving racists are having a field day terrorizing our communities. I know that police protection is scant or in some cases nowhere to be found.
We have had to take up and protect our own blocks and businesses and it has been a traumatic and ongoing effort. I write this at 4:41 a.m. on June 1. I’ve gotten 3 hours of sleep in the past two days. My neighbor was arrested for helping put out a fire at a local grocery store — one of the few left in my ’hood. An uprising is happening as we speak. White supremacy is rioting. Militarized police are rioting. We were protesting. And now we’re uprising.
We are at a very important crossroads in this country. The horrific murder of George Floyd and the resulting uprisings have placed the mirror firmly on us. There is no more denying systemic racism against Blacks. There is no more denying the police are only here to keep us “in our place.” It’s time to face these hard truths. Because these curfews and this pandemic and these riots are pushing us further into a future with even less freedoms.
I am willing to help fight against all of that. America could be a beautiful place, if we reset. It has never been great. Being on the right side of history, at this moment, could be the greatness we’ve been looking for.
Native Chicago South Sider, Minneapolis resident