Was George Floyd's murder a result of systemic racism in this country?


Fact Box

  • On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, an African American man, died while being arrested by the police. A white police officer pinned Floyd to the ground, and while handcuffed, the police officer kneed into the back of Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes, even after Floyd lost consciousness [1].
  • On May 29, Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. On June 3, the charges against Chauvin were upgraded to second-degree murder and the three other officers were charged with aiding and abetting murder [1].
  • “Systemic racism” or “institutional racism” refers to how ideas of white superiority are captured in everyday thinking at a systems level: taking in the big picture of how society operates, rather than looking at one-on-one interactions [2].
  • A 2012-2015 Bureau of Justice report found that white Americans commit about 44% of violent crimes and black Americans commit about 20% of violent crimes [3]; Likewise, according to 2018 FBI crime data, black Americans comprise 12-13% of population and committed about 40% of all homicide; white Americans made up about 70% of the population accounted for 30% of a homicide offenders [4]
  • According to the Washington Post, there were 999 fatal police shootings in 2019. 403 were white while 250 were black. Those who were white and unarmed were 25. Those who were black and unarmed were 14 [5].
  • Since 2015, the Minneapolis police have documented using force about 11,500 times. For at least 6,650 acts of force, the subject of that force was black. By comparison, the police have used force about 2,750 times against white people, who make up about 60 percent of the population [6].

Nida (Yes)

George Floyd's murder was the latest in a series of incendiary incidents that bring the issue of racism in the U.S. to the forefront [1]. It is never a single instance, happening in a vacuum. These incidents are symptoms of a cancer--the systemic racism overwhelmingly prevalent in America.  

It starts at birth, when black children don't receive the same standard of education; more destitute, mostly black neighborhoods have schools that are underfunded and understaffed [2]. Black boys are three times, and black girls are four times, more likely to be suspended for the misbehavior that gets their white counterparts a stern talking to [3]. 

The ones who stick it out to get a college degree are still stereotyped as uneducated or 'dumb' [3]. This severely limits the opportunities that are available to them in terms of work and housing [4, 5]. African Americans, like George Floyd, are victims of racial profiling; they are persecuted for being black in America [1]. Racial profiling can have devastating and detrimental psychological, emotional, and, at times, physical effects [6]. Black people are more likely to be arrested and incarcerated; they serve longer jail terms, and too often are shot without provocation[7]. 

Floyd's death was a travesty, a historic day of reckoning that led to massive protests in cities across the U.S. and all over the world [8]. People came out in droves to show solidarity and demand justice for the murder of George Floyd. His tragic death will not be in vain if the protests lead to reforms and accountability on a much larger scale. 

Noah (No)

No. Systemic racism didn't kill George Floyd.

The systemic corruption of our criminal justice system did.

Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd with the usual expectation of police impunity as he played arresting officer, judge, jury, and executioner in just ten minutes [1].

But it wasn't racism that distorted Officer Chauvin's mind. The American system of criminal justice has corrupted not only policemen and women, but FBI agents, DOJ officials, prosecutors, magistrates, judges, prison guards, wardens, politicians, and even defense attorneys [2].

Until the age of bodycams, unethical--even murderous--behavior was often brushed under the rug [3]. And today, law enforcement unions hold immense power over elected officials and usually get a 'bad cop' acquitted and back on the streets [4].

Prosecutors cannot be punished for outright lying in a Federal criminal case; they have immunity even if their lies about a defendant are exposed in open court [5]. Judges, who are supposed to look out for a defendant's rights, now take it upon themselves to act as prosecutor even when the government drops all charges [5].

It's difficult to read into a person's heart. Their actions, however, are another story. Especially when the entire world witnesses the execution of George Floyd on the streets of Minneapolis. 

The video and heart-rending pleas for air are enough to convict Officer Chauvin and the three other policemen who aided and abetted his crime. 'Systemic racism' is not a part of the evidence, nor should it be.

If dramatic change is to come about because of George Floyd's murder, then let it begin by cleaning up, from the ground up, the current corrupt cesspool we now call the American criminal justice system.

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