#GeorgeFloyd and COVID-19: We’re fighting two pandemics.
By: Maya Boddie
Outside may be closed, but it’s still open season on Black people in the United States.
In the past weeks, the nation’s COVID-19 death toll surpassed 100,000 — the majority of deaths falling on Black communities. Though the number of deaths is alarming, our work at Advancement Project National Office over the past 20 years tells us another pandemic has eroded the streets of every city in this country for centuries: racism.
On May 25, in the streets of Minneapolis, Minnesota, #GeorgeFloyd was violently suffocated and killed by a white police officer. The officer pressed his knee against George’s neck while he was lying face down on pavement, for a full eight minutes until he stopped moving. Experts have pointed out that the combination of the knee restraint and the position of lying on stomach for too long, most likely led to the cut off of oxygen. Similar to #AhmaudArbery, the video of George’s murder surfaced the internet and circulated social media, which warranted both local and national protesting in Minneapolis and beyond. It took four days for Derek Chauvin, the cowardly officer to be arrested, taken into custody, and charged with third-degree murder.
And we know why.
In February, Ahmaud Arbery was hunted and murdered – #JoggingWhileBlack – by a white father and son duo in Georgia. In March, 26-year-old #BreonnaTaylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were sound asleep in their Louisville, Kentucky, apartment when police intruded in the middle of the night, citing a drug warrant for a person at a different address. Breonna was shot eight times and died in her home.
No arrests were made at the time of Ahmaud’s or Breonna’s murder. Ahmaud’s death was not nationally publicized until a video surfaced on the internet in early May, and although his murderers have since been arrested and charged, with a hearing set for June 4, Breonna’s murderers have received no consequence.
For an organization like Advancement Project National Office that works everyday toward creating #FreeAndSafe Black and Brown communities, free of oppressive and discriminatory law enforcement, these tragic scenarios are infuriating, yet unsurprising. We know that doing anything #WhileBlack puts Black and Brown people in harm’s way each and every day.
The men who murdered Ahmaud will go to trial. Kentucky officials have had much discussion around implementing no-knock warrant and body camera policies following the murder of Breonna. The police officer who murdered George was fired. We know that none of this counts as real action, nor can it generate real change. We’ve seen how, time and time again, privilege and power overrule policy, which is why Advancement Project National Office supports grassroots movements in communities of color like the work that Black Lives Matter Louisville, Michigan Liberation, Ferguson Collaborative, and others that are challenging racial criminalization and call for genuine police accountability.
The lynching of Black people in America must stop.
We know that the vicious disposal of Black lives is far too common, but we must continue to push towards freedom and justice for our people until we can live #FreeAndSafe. We will continue fighting to dismantle systems that criminalize people of color in the name of “law and order.” We will continue to reimagine how safety is pursued. We will continue to honor, uplift and embody the moral truth that #BlackLivesMatter.
If you are outraged in this moment and looking for ways to help, we have compiled a list of organizations that you can donate to and support.