We’ve all seen the video of George Floyd, the Minnesota man who died in police custody as a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. We watched as the officer callously ignored Mr. Floyd’s pleas to be released and turned a deaf ear to the bystanders who warned that Mr. Floyd was unresponsive. If you have any heart at all, you were appalled and sickened by Officer Derek Chauvin’s actions, as were the thousands who demanded justice and took to the streets in protest. As I listen to news reports and view video footage of these protests, I am dumbstruck. At what point did a constructive social movement rightly protesting this murderous tragedy spark violence and fires in the streets? Those of dubious and criminal intent have now mingled with those whose sole motivation is justice for George Floyd. There are no words to express what this has done.
Was the killing of George Floyd racism? Most definitely. Had Mr. Floyd been a white man, Derek Chauvin would likely not have handled him so lethally. Was public outcry against Chauvin’s behavior justified? Absolutely. Without the protests early on, Chauvin may not have been arrested. A public voice is the only thing that has ever or will ever reveal the undercurrent of racism in our society. But those who are wreaking havoc, whether they are defacing historic buildings and churches, burning department stores, breaking windows, looting, storming barricades, driving police vehicles into the crowds, attacking reporters, or declaring “it’s Maga Night at the White House,” are working against the movement seeking justice for George Floyd. Immediately after Mr. Floyd’s death on May 25, the nation stood in solidarity against Officer Chauvin’s actions; a week later, we have been cast into unrest, thanks to angry, destructive mobs overtaking the streets. These dissidents have done race relations no favors; they have divided the people and shifted focus away from George Floyd.
There’s much to debate here, but quite frankly, I’m not up to it. I don’t have the words. I don’t have the energy. As a good friend recently posted on Facebook, “up is down, down is up” these days. She’s correct! We have been running around in circles for so long we can’t even remember where or how the circle began. Anger has become commonplace. Everybody hates – or at the very least, intensely dislikes -somebody. Everybody is judgmental. Everybody harbors prejudice. Everybody hides their true feelings in silence. Anyone who says otherwise is naïve or willfully hiding their head in the sand.
There’s nothing constructive or helpful I can say about the George Floyd tragedy that hasn’t already been said. There is only this: I am sick of what our society has become. I am sick of the evil that slithers unchecked, and in this case, moved a man to purposefully lean on another man’s neck and kill him. I am sick of that same evil twisting things around and working against goodness. I am sick of those who can’t, for whatever reason, see this event as a crime against humanity. I am sick of the manipulative, hateful rhetoric and machinations of weak leadership. I am sick of people being hateful to one another. I am sick of my own negativity. I am sick of my inability to adequately express my deep sorrow for all this nation has lost with the passing of George Floyd. I am sick and tired of this crazy, eye-for-an-eye, hateful circle. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.
But I digress. The sorrow and rage that has befallen our country this week is not about me. It’s about George Floyd. We can’t forget that. We can’t allow the anger, the negativity, the riots, and our oftentimes overwhelming weariness to overshadow what transpired in Minnesota. It all boils down to this: Officer Derek Chauvin’s actions directly caused George Floyd’s death. Floyd pleaded for mercy and received none. May God rest his soul and strengthen his family and friends. And may justice prevail.