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By Jayda Pounds, a Minneapolis resident
On May 25, 2020, many of us felt like the world stopped. We heard the news that yet another Black man in Minnesota had been brutally murdered by the Minneapolis Police Department. But this time, instead of a fatal police shooting, we witnessed a White police officer, Derek Chauvin, take the life of a Black man, George Floyd, by placing his knee on Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes.
While watching bystander footage of this tragic incident, emotions of anger, disappointment, and hurt overtook our community in Minneapolis.
The modern day lynching of George Floyd revealed to the world the dark underbelly of racism in America and how much more rampant it had become.
It’s highly disturbing that it took video evidence captured by a young bystander for people to believe and understand the depravity and depths of hatred against Black bodies, and for them to take action. People in Minneapolis and around the world took to the streets in protest against police violence and called for accountability for all four officers who murdered George Floyd.
George Floyd’s death inspired largest movement in U.S. history
During the summer of 2020, it is estimated that tens of millions of people in the United States and throughout dozens of countries around the world, participated in protests and demonstrations calling for an end to police violence. No doubt, the collective power of the people in calling for change and demanding justice contributed to the convictions of former MPD officers, Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J. Alexander Kueng, in a combination of state and/or federal court.
In reflecting upon the killing of George Floyd and the aftermath, I remain proud of my community in Minneapolis for the strength we displayed in fighting against injustice— against the systems put in place to minimize our voices, and against the detrimental stereotypes that seek to lessen our beauty and brilliance as a people.
Together, my community worked to overcome and combat the corruption and injustices that were and are occurring within the Minneapolis Police Department. Unfortunately, there is much more work to be done in dismantling their corruption and deceit; we must continue to disrupt and disassemble their discriminatory practices and policies.
Minneapolis police officers lack effective accountability
For instance, police officers with a track record of brutalizing and/or murdering civilians should be held to the highest standards of accountability and should not be allowed to remain in positions of power over Black people. Each jurisdiction that grapples with unjust police violence should have strong civilian oversight with the power to discipline officers who violate the law and people’s civil rights.
Also, police officers should no longer be allowed to engage in warrior training and should instead act as guardians. Police academy training should emphasize de-escalation instead of harsh, overly-aggressive techniques, such as choke holds and restraints that cause significant harm or even death.
And finally, we must advocate for an end to the militarization of police forces, as well as the dangerous, high-powered weapons and munitions that accompany police culture. All of these issues are worth our attention and commitment to addressing and overhauling.
When society sees us as Black people, they need to see our brilliance, our light, and the power we hold, rather than perceiving us as something that should be feared and eliminated. Too many Black people have been used as target practice at the hands of those who are supposed to serve and protect us. It is long overdue for the world to recognize our humanity and the value that we hold as Black People.