Protests and chaos have exploded across the United States after a white police officer Derek Chauvin was captured on camera murdering an innocent black man named George Floyd last Monday in Minneapolis, with the officer’s hands in his pockets, and his knee on Floyd’s neck for about nine long and painful minutes, as he pleaded with him to let him breathe and witnesses begged the white cop to take the black suspect into custody rather than executing him in broad day light.
The same white police officer, who has now been fired and charged with third degree murder and manslaughter, was involved in a shooting that killed Wayne Reyes in 2006. He was not held accountable.
Dozens of complaints against him by many of his victims over the years were ignored by the police because the victims were mainly black people.
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But the execution of George Floyd was shocking as the country was able to see live the public execution of a handcuffed black man by a white police officer with his hands in his pockets, and his knee on the neck of his victim until he lost consciousness and later died.
That heartbreaking image of a white man executing a black man in broad day light with his knee as the black man pleads to be allowed to breathe is a collective knee on all black people, a symbol of arrogance and disdain.
That knee did not just kill George Floyd. It killed all black people in the United States.
It is that deadly and arrogant knee that has now led to demonstrators marching, stopping traffic and in some cases lashing out violently at police, from Minnesota to Phoenix, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and beyond.
It is that knee of injustice that led thousands of black, brown and white protesters to carry signs that said: “He said I can’t breathe. Justice for George.” They chanted ”“No justice, no peace” and “Say his name. George Floyd.”
It is that knee of oppression that turned a peaceful protest in downtown Atlanta violent with some demonstrators smashing police cars, setting one on fire, spray-painting the iconic logo sign at CNN headquarters, and breaking into a restaurant.
It is that knee of brutality that made the crowd there in Atlanta to pelt officers with bottles, chanting “Quit your jobs.”
It is that knee of arrogance that led protesters to shoot BB guns at officers and throw bricks, bottles and knives at them in Atlanta as people watched the scene from rooftops, some laughing as skirmishes broke out.
It is that daily knee of inequality that led other demonstrators to chant “I can’t breathe” and “Black lives matter” in Manhattan’s streets on Thursday in protest of the death of the black Minnesota man.
It is that knee of violence against black and brown people in the United States that led crowds of demonstrators in Brooklyn to chant at police officers lined up outside the Barclays Center, leading to several moments of struggle, as some in the crowd pushed against metal barricades and police pushed back.
It is that knee of heartlessness that made scores of water bottles to fly from the crowd toward the officers, even as police sprayed an eye-irritating chemical at the group.
That constant knee of aggression that made the demonstrators to carry the names of black people killed by police, including Floyd and Eric Garner, who died on Staten Island in 2014.
It is that knee of injustice that in Houston, where George Floyd grew up, led several thousand people to rally in front of City Hall, even as police took into custody a woman who had a rifle and had tried to use it to incite the crowd.