The Unjust Killing of George Floyd

Tony L. Clark holds a photo of George Floyd outside the Cup Food convenience store, Thursday, May 28, 2020, in Minneapolis. Floyd, a handcuffed black man, died Monday in police custody near the convenience story.(Jerry Holt/Star Tribune via AP)

On May 25th, George Floyd, a 46-year old Black man, was killed by police. Video footage taken at the scene shows officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, with his knee on Floyd’s neck, pinning him to the ground despite Floyd’s cries that he couldn’t breathe. Three other officers stood by, ignoring the requests of bystanders to check on Floyd’s breathing. Eight minutes and 46 seconds later, Floyd was dead.

The root of Floyd’s unjust killing—the systemic and racist view that Black people must prove they are not dangerous, that they are not entitled to a presumption of innocence—has resulted in the death of Black people in the United States for centuries through police brutality, unpunished vigilantism, and wrongful convictions. Police brutality is not new, and the protests against police brutality represent the pain and hurt not just for the death of George Floyd but for the deaths of all Black people killed by police before him.

The work we do at the Midwest Innocence Project often lays bare the reach and effects of systemic racism and white supremacy. It also requires we look at our history, at the forces that cause injustice to continue, and commit ourselves to finding and implementing solutions to prevent them. This means we must work not only to reform the criminal justice system, we must also work to combat systemic racism itself.

The Midwest Innocence Project affirms our commitment to combating white supremacy and anti-Blackness in our system, our organization, and our ourselves.

It is easy to believe the problem is too big and to throw up our hands in despair. But we can change this world if we do it together. George Floyd was killed not just because of the actions of one police officer, but also because of the unwillingness of other officers to intervene when they saw a murder occur before their eyes. Systemic racism also survives when we are unwilling to speak up and address racist acts and words when they occur in front of us. It will take each of us to challenge not only an unjust system and racist police actions, but also our own engagement in white supremacy and anti-Blackness.

 

You can join us in this work. Here are few simple ways to begin:

 

The Midwest Innocence Project mourns the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and all the other Black individuals whose lives were taken by racism and police brutality, and stands with their families and communities in seeking justice.