George Floyd’s Tragedy – The Time to Heal
By Gertrude Flynn-White -June 6, 2020
I hope you are all well and still trying to be safe. It has been an emotional week for me and I can imagine other persons are feeling the same way and echoing the same sentiments for different reasons.
For me, it has been a week during which my energy was at its lowest level and I struggled to adjust my facial muscles in an effort to find the radiant smile that depicts my personality.
This mood swing developed after I watched a disturbing amateur video that went viral on social media showing how George Floyd was pinned to the ground in handcuffs, with the knee of a police officer on his neck and two other police officers kneeling on his back.
While all this was going on, George, a 46 year old black man cried for his Mama and uttered the words, “I can’t breathe” After 8 minutes and 46 seconds, he became unresponsive. Those four words, “Mama, I can’t breathe” stick in my head. I have been around dogs all my life and I cannot imagine anyone doing this cruel act to any of them, let alone a human being.
After watching the video the first time, I had to close my eyes every time I came across it in the news or on Social media. The pressure of that officer’s knee on George’s neck for nearly nine minutes while the other two officers pinned him down, traumatized me. There were moments when George tried to turn his head but he couldn’t because of the pressure the officer applied to his neck.
The thought that his six-year-old daughter will have to grow up without a father while being haunted by the evidence of cruelty to her dad, is mind boggling. As a teacher, I can’t imagine how she will feel when other children are talking about their father and she has to relate to her dad’s inhumane death.
George Floyd’s brutal and untimely death has plunged his family into some valley moments, but it has helped to unify a society stigmatized by racial inequalities, economic oppression and police brutality.
It is so surreal that during a COVID-19 pandemic, people from different nationality, ethnic groups, and social organizations took to the streets in large numbers in the USA and others countires across the globe, to demonstrate peacefully in most instances, for police reform.
The words, “I Can’t Breathe”, “Black lives matter” and “No justice, no peace”, “Silence is compliance”, “Enough is Enough” are some of the slogans that could be seen on several placards.
So far, we can see a few changes taking place. The Minneapolis City Council has banned the use of choke holds and other states are deliberating similar police reforms. Some states have ordered the removal of Confederate monuments and memorials. Washing DC Mayor, Muriel Bowser, has ceremonially named a section of 16th Street leading to the White House, “Black Lives Matter Plaza” and the words, “Black Lives Matter” have been painted in large yellow letters on that street.
This is a welcomed change that could bring hope to the black community, and healing to a world suffering from deep emotional wounds.
As I watched the memorial service held in Minneapolis I reflected on the almost nine agonizing minutes before George took his last breathe. I remember the Fruit of the Holy Spirit and the nine attributes of a person living in accordance with the Holy Spirit (love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control). When these characteristics are lacking, lawlessness dominates our actions.
I hope that as we journey into the future, we will claim these attributes and take them with us. As we mourn the awful and untimely death of George Floyd and celebrate his life, let us see this as a moment to begin the process of healing in our society.
Let us remember that a picture is worth a thousand words and if it had not been for the release of that video on social media, we would not be having this conversation. Let us be our brother’s keeper and continue to capture these images on video because it makes a difference in some investigation. It takes time to heal but the process begins now.