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A Change Had To Come

By Beverly Gadson-Birch

What a week!! Washington, DC Mayor Bowser authorized Black Lives Matter painted in bold yellow letters taking up two blocks on 16th Street leading directly up to the White House. Street signs were also hung with Black Lives Matter Plaza. Lordy, Trump must have had an acute arrhythmia malfunction.

George Floyd’s death set off worldwide protests. Frankly speaking, if the outcry to Floyd’s death was anything but national, I was ready to move to the farm and live out my days. There comes a time in your life when you just get sick and tired of the same responses and excuses from law enforcement. Why so many deaths of black men at the hands of police officers? The truth is hidden behind the “Blue Wall of Silence” or “Blue Code”. Wikipedia defines the “Blue Wall of Silence” or “Blue Code” as “terms used in the United States to denote the informal rule among police officers not to report on a colleague’s errors, misconducts, or crimes, including police brutality”. A fellow officer would claim ignorance or have no knowledge of violations or misconduct taking place.  In other words, no see, no hear.

In George Floyd’s case, not only did the officers see and hear, they aided and abetted the arresting officer by helping to hold Floyd down, not stopping the use of deadly force and visibly trying to block the public view. All four officers need a dose of their own medicine. Now, I ain’t saying “an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth” but someone needs to hold them down, apply pressure for a few minutes and let them experience what Floyd experienced.

At Floyd’s memorial in his hometown of Fayetteville, North Carolina, Rev. Al Sharpton delivered an on-point message. Following the message, Sharpton asked everyone to stand for the almost nine minutes that Floyd was being kneed. I thought I would do the same.  When you are on the move, 8 or 9 minutes seem to pass quickly; but, when you are standing still or kneeling, it feels more like 15 minutes. The despicable act escapes my imagination. The pain Floyd endured while being kneed by Officer Chauvin for however long it took him to take his last breath is unfathomable. And, even when Floyd kept repeating, “I can’t breathe”, Officer Chauvin continued to press his knee into his neck. The other officers stood idly by in broad daylight while a murder was taking place. You will never convince me that those officers did not know that the pressure exerted for such an extended period of time would result in anything other than “death”.

Prior to body cameras and cell phones, cases were not recorded, reported and covered up. With cameras and cell phones recordings, police are still manhandling and abusing people of color. Police officers have been macing, tasing and chasing black men for years without cameras rolling, could it be in the heat of the moment they forget they are being recorded?

Floyd is dead after a call from a store clerk to police reporting he passed a $20 counterfeit bill. This was a store Floyd frequented. Did I miss something? Was Floyd aware the twenty-dollar bill was counterfeit? I have not heard any news report indicating an intentional act on Floyd’s behalf. I did a little research and lots of counterfeit money are in circulation.

In talking with my tightwad sister, she raised the question of knowledge and intent. She explained that she was given a counterfeit $20 bill at a service station and had no knowledge until she stopped at a dollar store to make a purchase. The clerk informed her the bill was counterfeit. The clerk could have called the police thinking she knowingly tried to pass off a counterfeit bill, but she did not. Ms. Tightwad went back to the same service station and used the counterfeit $20 bill to make a purchase. Ms. Tightwad said she was not going to be stuck with the counterfeit bill and was prepared for a heated exchange with the clerk. The clerk was so preoccupied that she did not scan the bill.  The counterfeit bill was placed back into circulation that day. Things happen! This could have very well been the case with Floyd.

My heartfelt thanks to people of goodwill around this nation that have joined hands to put a stop to racism, injustices and inhumanities. I regret George Floyd and so many others had to die such agonizing deaths, but his death will not be in vain. Because you died Floyd, others will live. Millions are rising up demanding change. A change had to come!!

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