Of late, we’ve had plenty of reasons to be ashamed of a large portion of the human species. Every Tuesday night I work hard to pull together a ‘good people’ post to help us all remember that the samples we see on the news every day are not the norm, that there are truly great people out there making the world a better place every day. And then, I read about things like those I’m about to discuss, and my Wednesday morning smile fades, I wonder if there is hope for the human species or if it even deserves to continue to exist.
If you’ve ever doubted that racism is alive and well in the United States, wonder no more. On Monday, May 25th, Memorial Day, Mr. George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, died at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. Four officers were at the scene, and three stood silent while one kept his knee pressed into Mr. Floyd’s neck for some five minutes, all the while Mr. Floyd was telling the officer he couldn’t breathe. By the time paramedics finally arrived and the officer removed his knee, Mr. Floyd was near death and died within minutes thereafter. Bystanders were pleading and begging with the officer to let him up, and at least two bystanders recorded the incident on their cell phones. There is some question as to what the police initially stopped Mr. Floyd for, and there are more unanswered questions than not, but the one thing that stands out is that the officers involved initially claimed Mr. Floyd was resisting arrest, while video shot during the time police were putting handcuffs on him would indicate he was cooperating with the officers.
One of the videos, that has been viewed by police and federal authorities, has been widely circulated on the internet, as well. I am not placing the video on this post, for it is heartbreaking and made me first want to throw something, then break down in tears. If you haven’t seen it, I’m sure you can find it.
The officers have all been fired from their positions, which tells you something right there. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey called on the FBI to investigate and posted an official statement on Facebook that begins …
“Being black in America should not be a death sentence.”
No, it certainly should not be, but for Mr. Floyd it surely was, as it was for Mr. Ahmaud Arbery a few weeks ago, and as it has been for so very many black people in the past.
Mr. Floyd worked for Mr. Jovanni Thunstrom, owner of Conga Latin Bistro in Minneapolis, and he also rented an apartment from Mr. Thunstrom. According to Mr. Thunstrom …
“It’s hard to believe a police officer would do that. He wasn’t a threat to justify excessive force used on him. No one had nothing bad to say about him. They all are shocked he’s dead. He never caused a fight or was rude to people. I hope something changes, because I lost a friend.”
I will follow up on this story when more information is available, or when the FBI finishes their investigation. As of today, the officers names have not been released. Minneapolis residents staged a protest at the intersection where Mr. Floyd was murdered, but Minneapolis police used teargas, projectiles and “other means” to break up the crowd. Funny, isn’t it, that the white supremacists can protest shops being closed while carrying assault weapons and police don’t lift a finger, but when people are protesting the unconscionable murder of a black man, they jump to action. Welcome to the 21st century in the United States.
And on another front …
Christian Cooper is an avid birdwatcher. He lives in New York City and often visits Central Park to … watch the birds. A crime? Only if you are black, which Mr. Cooper happens to be. On Monday, again, Memorial Day, Mr. Cooper was in the Park watching olive-sided flycatchers and red-bellied woodpeckers, when nearby a woman was exercising her dog, who was not on a leash. As they got closer, Mr. Cooper asked her nicely to please put her dog on a leash, for the safety of all. The woman, whose name is Amy Cooper (no relation to Mr. Cooper) refused and became overly aggressive, walking toward Mr. Cooper shoving her finger in his face. By this time, Mr. Cooper had his cell phone out and had begun filming the incident while repeatedly saying, “Please don’t come close to me”.
The woman said she was going to “call the cops”, and Mr. Cooper told her to “Please, call the cops”. It was then that she said she was going to tell them that “An African-American man is threatening my life!” By this time, Mr. Cooper was, as was obvious from his tone of voice, afraid of what this lunatic would do next, and he told her to tell them whatever she liked, just get them there. Meanwhile, she is dragging the poor dog around by the collar. With my near-deafness, I cannot understand what she said to the police on the phone, but I could hear that she was screeching like a banshee.
The police responded, by which time the woman had put the dog on a leash, and no charges were filed, no arrests made. The next day, however, Amy Cooper returned her dog to the shelter from where she had adopted him two years before and was placed on leave from her job as an insurance portfolio manager.
Mr. Cooper is a Harvard graduate who works in communications, has long been a prominent birder in the city and is on the board of the New York City Audubon Society. In an interview on Wednesday, he was more than gracious toward Amy Cooper, saying …
“Any of us can make — not necessarily a racist mistake, but a mistake. And to get that kind of tidal wave in such a compressed period of time, it’s got to hurt. It’s got to hurt. I’m not excusing the racism, but I don’t know if her life needed to be torn apart.”
Amy Cooper has since offered a public apology. Sorry, one can apologize for their actions, but the fact is that this woman is a racist who judged Mr. Cooper’s intentions based on nothing more than his skin colour. That is who or what she is, plain and simple. An apology doesn’t change that.
Yep, folks, racism is alive and well, and on the rise in the United States of America today. Isn’t it a shame that in all these hundreds of years, we haven’t learned a damn thing?