The May 25 murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis was an egregious disregard of the morals and principles that govern this country.
I, in addition to many of my countrymen, witnessed an attack on everything that this nation has claimed to represent for nearly 250 years.
We the People claim to value liberty above all else, but I saw no evidence of this as the life drained from Floyd’s eyes. We stand for proportional response abroad, but at home we witness our brothers die for forged documents in a convenience store or for wearing their hoodies at night.
Floyd’s death will be dismissed by many as a political issue, but this is not a question of left versus right, liberalism versus conservatism.
This is about authoritarianism versus liberty.
More importantly, it is a question of right and wrong.
The murder of George Floyd was not an isolated incident. As a 24-year-old, I have watched the United States debate the deaths of Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Ahmaud Arbery and countless other men of color.
There is nothing left to debate.
The nation watched as George Floyd pled with the offending officer to let him take a breath, and we watched as the officer taunted him in response. We heard Floyd call out for his mother as his breaths grew shorter, and we witnessed his murderer continue to apply unrelenting force.
We hoped in vain that the other officers might step in, yet they chose to remain complicit. The latter highlights an obvious way we can obtain justice for Floyd, Brown and others like them.
Our police officers swear to serve and protect the members of their communities. I ask, given the events of the last six or seven years, who does their community include?
It undoubtedly does not include people of color or even the white people who stand up in opposition to prejudice.
Given that the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis has pledged to defend Derek Chauvin, the murderer of Floyd, I can only assume that the so-called protectors of Minneapolis were sworn to protect themselves.
Daniel Pantaleo, who murdered Eric Garner in 2014, continued to serve with the New York Police Department for nearly five years after Garner’s death.
Simply stated, our law enforcement officials are not held to a high enough standard. They masquerade as keepers-of-peace, but they act like lawless gang with guns and nightsticks. This demands our immediate attention.
However, it is not our police officers I find myself most ashamed of. The events surrounding the May 25 death of George Floyd are the direct result of inaction by the ethnic majority — white people.
People of color need our action now more than ever. We are on the inside of a system tilted discriminately in our favor. Now is the time for us to tip the scales toward equity—and most importantly, equality.
We can do this by speaking out. We can do this by challenging the racist platitudes forced upon us by the generations that have come before us. We see the world for what it is, but real change will not occur until we see the world for how it could one day be.
Rise up, stand with your brothers of color. Protest with them. Demand change. Help them breathe.
Clint Milligan is a senior in applied math at Auburn University.
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