A year ago today, the Twin Cities was forever changed when 46-year-old George Floyd was murdered by Derek Chauvin in broad daylight. For more than nine minutes, Chauvin, a Minneapolis police officer, knelt on Floyd’s neck while he was in custody for allegedly attempting to pass a counterfeit $20 bill at a nearby convenience store. Pleas for help and for his mother went unheeded, as did his cries that he couldn’t breathe. A short while later, he took his last breath.
What followed was something that forever changed our city and our world. Protesters demanded that the officer and his colleagues who failed to intervene be held accountable. Businesses boarded up their doors and prayed that protesters would spare their livelihood. And the world watched as people so fed up with a system that far too often preys on minorities demanded change. But has that change come in the year since George Floyd was murdered?
A Year Like No Other
It seems like far too often when we read stories about suspects dying in police custody, there is limited information about the incident. Dash cameras and body cameras didn’t catch the incident, and without a suspect to provide their version of events, oftentimes it comes down to the police officer’s official report. Thankfully, with George Floyd, the incident happened in broad daylight for all to see. If not for bystanders who took out their cell phones and recorded the incident, it seems unlikely Chauvin would ever have even been arrested. After all, here’s how the Minneapolis Police Department reported their interaction with Floyd.
“On Monday evening, shortly after 8:00 pm, officers from the Minneapolis Police Department responded to the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South on a report of a forgery in progress. Officers were advised that the suspect was sitting on top of a blue car and appeared to be under the influence.
Two officers arrived and located the suspect, a male believed to be in his 40s, in his car. He was ordered to step 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. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later.
At no time were weapons of any type used by anyone involved in this incident.”
If you hadn’t seen the video and only read the story, you may not have paid it a second thought. But because the incident was caught on tape, the world watched and demanded justice.
Chauvin’s Arrest And Trial
It seemed like it took forever, but eventually Chauvin was charged for his role in Floyd death. We covered the trial on our blog as it played out, and many people felt like some semblance of justice was achieved when a jury convicted Chauvin on all three charges, the most serious being second degree unintentional murder. He’ll be sentenced next month, and his sentence will likely be between 12-30 years.
So while there has been some justice for George, are we any closer to systemic change to prevent another incident like this down the road? Some say yes, while others say only superficial changes have been made. Chokeholds and submission techniques like the ones used against Floyd have been banned by many police departments across the United States, but that still hasn’t stopped minorities from dying at the hands of police. Just last month, Daunte Wright was shot in Brooklyn Center by a police officer who claimed to mistakenly draw her taser instead of her service weapon. Again, if not for camera footage, the world may never have known what truly went down that day
So has progress been made in the year since George Floyd was killed by someone sworn to protect and serve? We can’t say how much progress we’ve made, but it’s clear that it’s not enough. So help continue to fuel that progress today by remembering George Floyd and working to create a world of peace and love instead of one fueled by hate. Because if we don’t, there will be another George Floyd, and that simply cannot happen again.
Say his name.