It’s almost like a bad dream. A never-ending nightmare that people of color can’t escape in this country. And every time the life of an innocent Black person is snuffed out by bigotry, police brutality, and indifference towards “Black Lives That Matter” it cuts through the souls and spirit of Black people.
It seems that every year now, a flurry of brutal police murders perpetrated upon people of color incite a groundswell of anger from the most prominent members of the Black community.
Seeing Ahmaud Arbery gunned down and hunted by two white men for jogging though a Georgia neighborhood took us back to a time when the Civil Rights of Black folks was spinning in the balance and being litigated through incremental legislative processes. The fact that The McMichael Family wasn’t charged for 74 days — until some prominent voices spoke out is damning. The people are still seeking justice for his murder as they await trial.
The latest killing of an unarmed Black man by police has once again prompted some impactful Tweets and emotionally-spirited, often angry reactions.
Videos of Floyd being arrested went viral on Monday, showing one of the officers kneeling on Floyd’s neck during the arrest. In one of the clips, Floyd can be heard screaming, “Please, I can’t breathe!” However, the officer ignores Floyd’s cries, calls Floyd a “tough guy” who was resisting and continues to apply pressure to his neck.
The people came out for Floyd in a peaceful protest in the streets of Minnesota and were chemically gassed by police.
LeBron tweeted out a picture of the cop with his knee on Floyd’s neck. Beside that photo, was a picture of blackballed NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose decision to kneel for the National anthem in protest of police brutality back in the 49ers’ final 2016 preseason game on September 1, 2016, kicked off a saga that will forever be remembered as a black stain on the racial, social and economic integrity of the NFL.
Bron’s caption speaks for itself.
Eric Garner: “I Can’t Breathe”
It’s been just five years since officer Daniel Pantaleo choked Eric Garner to death on a New York City street for selling cigarettes. Garner’s dying words “I can’t breathe” became a rallying cry for protests against police brutality. A state grand jury declined to press criminal charges. After a civil rights investigation, federal prosecutors brought no charges. Pantaleo was eventually fired years later, but the verdict was another blow to the gut. Another Rodney King moment that emphatically showed the low value of Black life in America.
Floyd’s killers have already, been fired but the damage is done.
Garner’s mother says when she saw the video it was like a “recurring nightmare.”
It was déjà vu all over again,” Gwen Carr said about the police-involved deaths of her son, Eric Garner, in 2014 and Floyd.
Police say Garner had been arrested multiple times for selling untaxed cigarettes in the past. Suspecting him of the same crime, the now infamous video illustrates Garner attempting to explain to officers that he’d done nothing wrong. Eyewitness Ramsey Orta told Time magazine that Garner had just broken up a fight between two individuals. Ignoring Garner’s attempts at reasoning, an officer approached him from behind and applied a chokehold and pulled him down to the ground. Garner repeatedly said he could not breathe, but those pleas fell on deaf ears as the chokehold ultimately contributed to his death by cardiac arrest.
Back then, Lebron James, Kyrie Irving, Derrick Rose, and other NBA players and celebrities addressed their outrage and support for the Garner family in several ways.
We could never have imagined, with Garner’s mother still fighting for justice, that George Floyd would be murdered on a Minneapolis street while screaming the same exact same words, making the same plea for his life, that Garner made.
The exact same words. Even the most racist cops. Or the most unintelligent or fearful ones, would hear those words and loosen up their grip on a man that was posing no threat.
Six years after the Garner case rocked the world — and did much to inspire Colin Kaepernick‘s kneeling and all of the protests and sound bites and tweets and unity and trials and tribulations that Black America has since experienced — the EXACT same thing happened on camera to Floyd.
The police gave two F*cks.
The words “I can’t breathe” are now harsh reminders to young Black men to stand down against the oppressive forces of police, no matter what. The words remind Black men of their vulnerable existence in this country. Those words are now a part of our nightmares — same as wearing hoodies, selling loose cigarettes, or being the unfortunate victim of overzealous cops in a foreign town.
What happened to Garner was considered an aberration to many. Something bad, happening to a bad guy. He was villainized in the media so that public sympathy from non-people of color would remain with the cops.
Unfortunately, Black America knows this wasn’t an uncommon occurrence.
Radio Raheem: Love & Hate
Before Garner and Floyd were choked out, Radio Raheem suffered the same fate in Spike Lee’s classic, “Do The Right Thing.” There were witnesses and cameras rolling for that dramatic, heart-wrenching, infuriating murder as well.
It was just a movie but became a real-life depiction of the state of race relations in the inner-cities. It highlighted the disconnect, the manufactured fear, and adversarial posture between law enforcement and people of color. What began on the screen, has jumped into the psyche, emotions, and minds of Black America, entrenching itself as a part of the culture that we can’t shake.
So, kudos to all of the athletes who speak out about these injustices. Once again, in his own way, LeBron has stepped to the forefront of a tough conversation, putting his universal brand at risk, denouncing another act of police brutality against a Black man and also reaffirming the importance of Colin Kaepernick’s stand, what he sacrificed and why he originally did it.