Racism is not going away any time soon, and neither will moments like the George Floyd killing.
Struggling with Covid-19 for months, the US has suddenly been shaken by George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis. This week I got together with the protesters who have been supported by tens of thousands. I have also had the opportunity to talk to many different officials and nongovernmental leaders.
Following Floyd’s killing, protests have taken place in more than 300 cities across the US and still continue to be carried out daily as a result of the combination of reactions, anger, opportunism, and Trump-hating.
We have witnessed opportunistic looters who have been looting, especially in Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and New York.
The looting of Fifth Avenue and the luxury shops in SoHo in New York took place while the whole world was watching.
Now, the situation in New York is heartbreaking. Whichever street you walk on, all shops left and right are closed with wooden boards.
When I spoke to protesters in New York, they said they reacted to looters and that the looting served President Trump.
In the same way, when they were asked when their protests would be over, they said they hoped that the four police officers would be convicted, and justice would be restored.
When asked if the officers’ arrest was enough, the protestors answered, “No; following their arrests, they may be released after the court.”
Between 2013 and 2019, 7,666 people - all races - died as a result of police brutality.
California, Texas, and Florida are the states with the highest level of police violence, and the national rate of black people subjected to police violence is two and a half times higher than the number for white people. It is also important to note that African Americans make up just 13 percent of the US population.
Of course there are police officers that do their duty honourably and cooperate with the public. We should separate the good from the bad ones.
President Obama condemned Floyd’s killing three days later and reminded President Trump that the United States was founded on protests.
Likewise, he stated that he hoped the protests would cause policy change and urged reform on police. I find it odd that Barack Obama, who served the US for eight years as the first Black president, is only now calling for police reforms.
When I researched what kind of reforms he had made for African Americans in his period, I couldn’t find much. The reports from 2015 when President Obama was the president show that the police killed 1,152 people.
So it is unfair to blame President Trump only. Unfortunately, African Americans and other ethnic groups have been subject to violence during the periods of every president, so it would be wrong to hold only one president responsible for this social wound.
Popular African American activist Reverend Al Sharpton's speech at Floyd’s funeral, triggered a tremendous response when he asked those in attendance to stand in silence together for George Floyd.
The day after the ceremony, I had the opportunity to speak to Sharpton.
I thanked him for his effective speech, and then I asked him what would happen next. The Black leader said resolutely, “We will not stop. We will go on until we change the whole system of justice.”
He said they were going back to Washington to hold a big march, and preparations were already underway.
Will the violence against African Americans finally come to an end?
As someone who has been living in the US for over 22 years, I can’t say that I believe racism will come to an end. Unfortunately, Floyd’s killing was neither the first nor will it be the last.
From now on, local administrations will either cut police budgets, like the municipality of Los Angeles that cut $150 million from the police budget, or they will work on reforming police departments.
Likewise, the Minneapolis Municipal Council banned the police from using chokeholds two days ago and has pledged to 'defund' the police.
At the federal level, Trump is not expected to make any reforms until November 3. The other day, when a reporter asked, “What kind of reforms are you going to impose for the benefit of African American people?” he clearly replied, “Strong economy!” which means increasing the income of African Americans and bringing them to an equal level in terms of the economy. We will see how successful that will be.
The protests have been massive in the US and have triggered protests worldwide. What is significant here is that the public has consciously put pressure on both local and federal governments to change laws and to reform.
Regardless of colour, religion, language, or race, human life is essential. Let’s not forget this.
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