“It is sad to see that nothing has changed,” Colin Kaepernick admits to ICON, in October 2018. The former NFL player was referring to police brutality towards black people and despite having made a controversial move in the summer of 2016 to kneel during the national anthem in respect, it had appeared that the nation was still strongly divided. He lost his position as quarterback for the San Fransisco 49ers and for many, respect. Fast forward four years and it is sad to see that nothing has changed. But this is not a profile on Colin Kaepernick however, no, this is a look into George Floyd, the man that fell victim to white supremacy in the hands of law enforcement.
On May 25, George Floyd was forcefully taken from his car on a busy street in Minneapolis and pinned down by police officers. According to Minneapolis Police Department, officers were responding to a call after a man tried to use a $20 counterfeit bill at a store. Floyd matched the description and was in turn arrested. But like many people of colour, he experienced unnecessary force and brutality to the highest degree and footage published to social media records the final minutes of his life.
“I can’t breathe.”
Pleading with officers, Floyd can be heard begging, “I can’t breathe”, before being left unconscious. A white officer was using his knee to stand on Floyd’s neck is seen on footage and continued to do so for over eight minutes despite distressed calls from passerby’s to let him up. According to reports, George Floyd died in Hennepin County Medical Centre shortly after the incident.
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The Minneapolis Police murdered this brother. This man, who, like Eric Garner, yelled out over and over and over again that HE COULD NOT BREATHE, was CLEARLY in distress. He is in handcuffs. On his belly. That already makes it hard for people to breathe. Then, for minutes and minutes on end, the officer keeps his KNEE on this man's neck – literally choking the life out of him. The people BEGGED for them to let up. BEGGED. Not that it would matter, but this man wasn't wanted for a violent crime. A grocery store thought he was signing a bad check. Yeah, really. A bad fucking check. Show me the white man that has ever been confronted and killed over this. People are hurting. People are out of work. I am so utterly disgusted and heartbroken that we live in a nation, in a time, where this keeps happening over and over again. Our team @GrassrootsLaw is going to fight for justice here and we won't let up until we get it. But here's the truth – JUSTICE would be this man this being alive right now. We are tired. We are angry. They are already LYING and saying they noticed he "went into distress." No, YOU PUT HIM IN DISTRESS and KEPT HIM IN DISTRESS. And this shit has to end. Call the Mayor, Jacob Frey @ (612) 673-2100 and let him know he needs to speedily fire these officers and call the DA @ 612-348-5550. That's Mike Freeman. Let him know he needs to file charges immediately. Follow @GrassrootsLaw.
George Floyd’s face is now plastered on social media and pinned to protest signs whilst riots throughout Minneapolis and across the country call for a halt to police brutality. But behind the disgusting crime and politics – the four officers were fired following the incident – there was a man, George Floyd, who never deserved such treatment, nor realised that Monday would be his last day.
So who was George Floyd, the unintended poster man of overdue change? Or was he once a son, a partner, a friend, a community member? Rest In Power.
George Floyd was 46-years-old and a native of Houston who was considered a sporting star during his years of high school. A Houston television station posted a video on Twitter which shows the player scoring a touchdown. Floyd graduated from Yates High in 1993, according to The New York Times. Floyd received a scholarship to play college football and following his graduation, was recruited to play exhibition matches around Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana, against college teams.
Here’s George Floyd scoring a touchdown in ‘92. What a play. Yates HS game hero.
Probably seems like a lifetime ago to Floyd’s family and friends.
— Courtney Fischer (@CourtneyABC13) May 27, 2020
George Floyd was reportedly known to his teammates as “Big Floyd”, and speaking to The New York Times, former teammate Cyril N. White recalled the man as being a “gentle giant”. The 46-year-old moved to Minneapolis just five years ago where he worked as a security guard at Conga Latin Bistro in Minneapolis. The restaurant owner, Jovanni Thunstrom, described Floyd in a Facebook post as a “very good friend”.
Conga customer Jessi Zendejas said in a Facebook post that the security guard “loved his hugs from his regulars,” according to the Star Tribune.
“[He] would be mad if you didn’t stop to greet him because he honestly loved seeing everyone and watching everyone have fun,” Zendejas wrote on social media.
Former NBA forward Stephen Jackson referred to Geroge Floyd as a “twin” and “my brother”. “Twin. I promise I won’t let this BS ride. Already talked to @shaunking. Anybody from Houston/Cuney Homes u know this was my brother. Can’t let this ride. All hands on deck. Rest Easy Twin”
LeBron James, Snoop Dog, Meek Mill and more celebrities have rallied in support of George Floyd, condemning the actions of the police officers involved. NBA star LeBron James reignatied the Colin Kaepernick debate and sided with the former athlete as he revisited the 2016 kneel on social media.