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‘I can’t breathe’: Minneapolis protesters vs. racist police killing

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Liberation News · ‘I Can’t Breathe’: Minneapolis protestors vs. racist police killing

Thousands of people gathered in Minneapolis May 26 to protest the killing of George Floyd and the entire system of white supremacy that police uphold. The previous day George Floyd was pinned to the ground by Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin. Chauvin’s knee pressed against Floyd’s neck as witnesses urged Chauvin to stop. Shortly after, Floyd was pronounced dead. His last words were, “I can’t breathe.”

Protesting police white supremacy 

The protest was held in a working-class, predominantly Black neighborhood. Protesters wore masks and were encouraged to practice social distancing while marching towards the Minneapolis 3rd Police Precinct. Philip, a young Black man from Minneapolis explained why he was at the protest: “I’m here because of the blatant disregard for life that the police department of Minneapolis, let alone the entire police system in the country, has for men and women of color. I’m sick and tired of police officers killing our people who look just like me and come wherever I come from.”

Philip continued: “We saw the cop. You could see it in his eyes, his demeanor, his posture. He was purely doing this because he was enjoying it. He liked it too much.” Photos of Derek Chauvin attending Trump rallies and wearing supremacist clothing have surfaced.

At Tuesday’s protest police wore gas masks as they shot rubber bullets and tear gas canisters at protesters. Less than a month ago, right wing protesters in Minnesota organized to protest COVID-19 quarantines. Despite breaking stay-at-home orders, the quarantine protesters, most of whom were white, remained virtually untouched by police forces. Taylor, another young Black man at the protest said: “I have no doubt that if he were a white man or white woman, George Floyd would still be alive today. This is happening all over the country. It’s a systemic issue, not an isolated incident.”

 ‘In a capitalist society it’s either death or death’

Ifrah, a young Black woman who lives four blocks away from the site of Floyd’s death, reminded us: “It’s not just Black bodies that are being lost. It’s working-class bodies, it’s not just George. There’s thousands and thousands who don’t have video recordings of them being killed. I feel like in a capitalist society it’s either death or death.”

Floyd’s killing comes after he was accused of forging a check at a grocery store. When police arrived they claimed he was resisting arrest, although there is no proof of either of these claims. While Chauvin shoved his knee into Floyd’s neck, MPD cop Tou Thao ignored the pleas of Floyd and witnesses to intervene. Both Chauvin and Thao have a history of abusing power as police officers. 

Floyd’s last words echoed those of  Eric Garner who was killed by New York Police Department officer Daniel Pantaleo in 2014 as he was suffocated to death in a choke hold. Garner’s haunting last words, “I can’t breathe,” have served as a chilling reminder of the brutal police state that targets and kills Black people. In an act of devastating injustice, Daniel Pantaleo was not charged for Eric Garner’s murder.

Chauvin and Thao were initially placed on paid administrative leave, but then were fired from MPD on May 26. But this is not enough. “These officers should have been charged yesterday,” Taylor said. “And until then, justice has not been served.”

The so-called justice system of the United States fails to protect those harmed by the capitalist institution and instead continues to terrorize Black, indigenous, people of color, and working-class communities. We must continue to organize and fight in solidarity against the murderous police state. Make no mistake, this was no accident. This is yet another killing in a pattern of police brutality against African Americans.

Jail all racist killer cops!

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