Property Is Not More Important Than Black Lives

Protestors demonstrate outside of a burning liquor store near the Minneapolis 3rd Police Precinct, Thursday, May 28, 2020, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

By Nsenga Burton

May 29, 2020

America, the capital of double standards and hypocrisy and the king of “do what I say but not what I do,” is at it again. 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or under some type of self-prescribed media fast, America is burning again. People fed up with unchecked police brutality against unarmed Black men, women and children have taken to the streets to protest the most recent killing of an unarmed Black man at the hands of white and in this case Asian police officers, again. 

George Floyd, who was alleged to have committed forgery, was taken into custody by police after a store clerk called them to complain about Floyd paying with a fake $20 bill. If you’re wondering how a routine police call ended with the senseless murder of yet another unarmed Black man, then so are we. 

Video surfaced of Floyd lying face down on the ground with his arms handcuffed behind his back. Officer Derek Chauvin kneeled with the full weight of his body, placing his knee across the back of Floyd’s neck while Floyd squirmed, gasping for air, pleading for his life and stating, “I can’t breathe.” 

People standing by and taping the arrest also pleaded for Floyd’s life to no avail. Chauvin sat there cavalierly with his hand in his pocket while literally snuffing the life out of Floyd for the world to see wearing a smug look of satisfaction on his face. 

While this video is shocking to some of you, it is normative to Black folks, who experience violence at the hands of the police in alarming numbers. 

In a snuff film seen around the world, America watched Floyd take his last breath at the hands of these men sworn to serve and protect. Although Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter on Friday, it’s not clear what, if anything, will happen to the other three former officers. All claimed Floyd resisted arrest. 

RELATED: This Is How You Can Help Demand Justice for George Floyd and Others Like Him

Add to the mix the release of the store’s video footage of the arrest from Mahmoud Abumayyaleh, the actual store owner, showing that Floyd did not resist arrest at all and was in fact peaceful. Protesters took to the streets surrounding the police precinct. 

What began as a peaceful protest turned into an uprising, some of which was in response to being met with police in riot gear. We all watched the countless videos of raging, armed white folks protesting coronavirus restrictions intended to protect their health—all, for what, their right to a haircut? We watched those protesters storm Michigan’s state capital without any arrests. 

America, the capital of double standards and hypocrisy and the king of “do what I say but not what I do,” is at it again. 

What is maddening about this most recent spate of uprisings is the continued trope of discussing protesters of color as rioters, thugs, and looters in mainstream media. I have read a plethora of op-eds today focusing on the destruction of property and not on the historic terror Blacks face on day to day in this country because of the color of their skin. 

Racism allows for the continued brutal beatings and killings of unarmed Blacks at the hands of rogue police officers, wannabe police officers, or white folks who appear to hate Black people and think they still own us. See Amy Cooper

RELATED: This Week’s Protests Are About More Than George Floyd’s Death. The Data Shows It.

Check any number of media platforms and you will see people who have remained silent in the face of Floyd’s killing, standing on their soapbox talking about the horrible people destroying the city of Minneapolis as if racism and terror aren’t destroying Black people every damned day. 

The real victims of historic and systemic racialized terror and abuse are being portrayed as the predators, while predators are being portrayed as the heroes. You don’t have to be Black in America to understand that people often value property and things over human life in this country. 

In fact, the value of property and land over the lives of Black Americans is as American as apple pie. It doesn’t help that President Trump rose to power by spewing the most vitriolic and hateful speech against Black and Brown people, sparking protests (because those folks are white) while stoking the flames of violence against people of color and their allies. 

Yes, the president of the United States who said in one tweet that there would be justice for George Floyd’s death and used another tweet to call for violence against rioters (because those folks are Black) because they were burning down a city.

RELATED: PHOTOS: Protests Erupt In NYC After George Floyd Murder

People feign shock and awe when peaceful protests become marked by anger and what some might call dubious behavior, but we know it’s coming because the root cause has not been addressed. State-sanctioned violence against unarmed Black people has not been properly addressed on a massive scale or national level. There cannot be one set of rules for Black folks and another set of rules for the rest of America. We cannot continue to be killed on video or audio and nothing of substance happens.

Instead of being outraged at what happened to Floyd, some people who have been silent about Floyd’s killing are more vocal about their favorite store being burned to the ground. Target can be replaced. Floyd’s life is irreplaceable. Black people are tired of not being seen or heard. Unarmed Black people are tired of being beaten and killed by police officers and white vigilantes for sport. 

Black people are tired of white people who do these things not being arrested, charged, tried and when tried, not convicted. 

Black people are tired of being invisible in a country built on hundreds of years of our highly visible free labor. Just check out President Trump’s latest press briefing this afternoon where he talked about China but did not address Minneapolis, Floyd’s death, or coronavirus, which is killing Black folks at an alarming rate.   

Not to be flippant about damage to cities, but instead of worrying about that which can be replaced, like a shopping center and apartments, perhaps we should all be worried that it takes uprisings for those in power to do the right thing.

George Floyd was executed. If you want to end riots, then end the terror and violence against unarmed Black and Brown people by rogue police officers in this country.


CATEGORIES: Commentary


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