On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, passed a counterfeit $20 bill at a local store and the arresting police officer knelt on his neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds killing him. To the surprise of many, the officer was convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.
If that’s all you knew about the George Floyd situation, you’d probably say that justice was served and we can all move on. But, it was all the stuff that happened between George Floyd’s death and the officer’s conviction that rocked us to our very core.
The summer of 2020 will go down in history as Floyd’s murder led to worldwide protests against police brutality, police racism, and lack of police accountability. The streets were literally on fire. Looting was rampant early and peaceful protests turned violent in many cities. Police, SWAT teams, National Guard, surveillance drones, helicopters, and planes, and a lot of arrests and bloodshed went on for months as some cities just couldn’t turn off the faucet of George Floyd protests.
White America took notice and became openly conciliatory. Of course, the hard core remained hard, but many others were sympathetic to the cause and joined in street protests sometimes outnumbering the black folks. Book stores and Amazon sold out of books on race and every TV network brought you the best talking heads and nightly protest coverage they could muster. The coronavirus had a hard time maintaining top story status when everyone was following the protests from city to city.
Although the protesters wanted racial justice, corporate America was hearing something different. Their response was to give employees a day off for the newly discovered Juneteeth holiday, while getting rid of Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben as they bundled every black movie and TV show they could find that would counter the newly prohibited ‘Gone with the Wind.’
It’s hard to believe it’s only been a year since George Floyd was killed. So, so much occurred these last 365 days. Some folks are still angry, some still in jail, some are more understanding, and some are still getting killed by police.
Clearly, the George Floyd hype has died down significantly in most circles, helped greatly by the conviction of the police officer that killed him. It doesn’t take a genius to assume the streets would be on fire once again if he was acquitted.
Between George Floyd and the coronavirus, these last 365 days has definitely changed the course of history in ways we still haven’t sorted out yet. Selfishly, my hope is that we never see either situation escalate as these two did in 2020 ever again in my lifetime.
Rest assured, there will be more protests and more contagious outbreaks. Hopefully, the lessons learned this summer will not be lost on history as we move to the future still grieving, battered, and bruised, but still here to make a better America.