QUEENS, NY– It all began on May 25th on a Monday in Minneapolis.
On that Monday, a Black man named George Floyd was at a convenience store buying a pack of cigarettes. When he went to pay for the cigarettes, the cashier accused Floyd of trying to use a counterfeit twenty dollar bill to pay. So, the cashier called 911 and four policemen showed up. Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao. Derek Chauvin then arrested Floyd and put his knee on Floyd’s neck for a total of eight minutes and 46 seconds. Then George Floyd said three words that changed the world, “ I can’t breathe.” While all this was happening Darnella Frazier was clueless that she was recording a death.
This incident began a series of protests against police brutality towards Black people. But what people don’t talk about is how Stephon Clark was 22 years old when he was shot at more than 20 times in his grandmother’s backyard. Nor do people talk about Botham Jean who was killed by an off-duty police officer in his own apartment because she thought it was her apartment and that he was a dangerous intruder. And he was only 26 years old. Because of racist police, countless families and communities have experienced loss in their own neighborhoods. My friend Samaira Bunbury has also experienced police being racist against her predominantly Black neighborhood. She says, “My neighborhood has a higher population of Black people, and I see a lot of police cars even when nobody is doing anything wrong.”
Samaira also states that, “There are stereotypes about Black people such as, Black people are criminals, they have a criminal background, etc. Because of this, police target Black people.” She hopes that one day stereotypes against Black people will be destroyed.
However, Samaira knows that, “Racism still exists, it exists in the police system, it exists everyday.” But, Samaira also feels that in 2020 people are starting to become aware that police brutality affects Black people more than other races.
But one question still remains: why are some Black victims of police brutality not even heard of? William Drumond teaches journalism at the University of California in Berkeley. Drumond talked to NPR and said that reporters often immediately react to cases where the victim was shot or killed or was innocent. If the victim was arrested before they were killed or wounded, reporters might overlook that story because the person might have “deserved it.” For instance a man named Delrawn Small was shot dead by an off-duty police officer while trying to coax an unarmed autistic patient out of the street. But prior to Delrawn getting shot, he had been drinking. William Drumond states that “you can’t put that in a headline; there are too many howevers when you have to qualify something.”
Unfortunately, the media has a habit of relaying the police’s version of these confrontations because they are usually the only ones left to tell the story. Because this happens, the media can get stories that are incorrect or wrong. But recently people have been able to witness and record the wrong done to Black people by racist police officers. Now that there are recordings, it is easier to tell what is a lie and what is the truth.
In the end, police brutality and racism against Black people still remain today. But in 2020, Black victims of police violence like George Floyd have finally been getting more of the recognition and attention they deserve because of the recordings. We still have a long way to go until every Black victim of police brutality is recognized, but we are slowly getting there.