Bye George. We've got it.

"Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world" - Archimedes



George

George Floyd was an average American man. Much like 40 million other Americans he was out of work and looking for a job as a result of the Novel-Coronavirus. While he was born in North Carolina, he spent most of his life in Houston, Texas, where he was an accomplished High School Football player, as well as, an aspiring Houston rapper nicknamed “Big Floyd”. Most of his lyrics focused on the lore of his beloved Third Ward neighborhood, which is one of six wards, and the home of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church. This church is where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once spoke on the racial injustices and inequalities that African-Americans suffered at the hands of a prejudiced society. But George's life wasn't always that of typical Americans, as a matter of fact his struggle and predestination to a life of crime is one that disproportionately affects over 13% of Americans. George has had multiple encounters with the law growing up and into this adult life, the most significant being the assault by gunpoint of Aracely Henriquez in 2007. George was sentenced to five years.

Much like many other Christians, the testimony and struggles of their past, colors much of what their future walk with God is like. God wants to use the compost of our past as the fertilizer for the fruits of our future, this seemed to be true in George Floyd's case as well.


When George got out of prison, he became active in his predominantly black community in the Third Ward. Patrick PT Ngwolo, pastor of Resurrection Houston stated, “George Floyd was a person of peace sent from the Lord that helped the gospel go forward in a place that I never lived in”. Other friends, like Ronnie Lillard, would recall that, “He [George] helped push the baptism tub over, understanding that people were going to make a decision of faith and get baptized right there in the middle of the projects. He thought that was amazing. The things that he would say to young men always referenced that God trumps street culture. I think he wanted to see young men put guns down and have Jesus instead of the streets."

In an interview with the Houston Chronicle, George's family stated he moved to Minnesota around 2018. He was there for a discipleship program including a job placement, according to Pastor Ngwolo. Three years prior to his death, George met Courteney Ross, who worked at a coffee shop and described him as the "man of God" fought for the underdog. He stood up for people, he was there for people when they were down, he loved people that were thrown away. We prayed over every meal, we prayed if we were having a hard time, we prayed if we were having a good time.”

In the moments leading up to George’s death, an employee at a Minneapolis grocery store called police after George allegedly tried to pass a counterfeit $ 20 bill. The owner of the store, Mike Abumayyaleh, stated that George, "may not have even known that the bill was counterfeit”, but also later stated it was store policy to call the police in these situations.

The rest you know. But what is often overlooked about George’s last moments on earth is the fact that in addition to saying the words “I can’t breathe”, he also called out to his “Momma”; a mother that had passed away two years prior.

Law Enforcement

I am glad that people of all opinions are starting to look at stats and reaching their own conclusions, but let me just preface that while statistics are a great way to see trends in order to inform your decisions they are not a panacea. Take for example, at the height of the stop and frisk policy in New York, under Michael Bloomberg, in 2011, there were 685,000 people who were stopped and frisked. Unsurprisingly people of color were stopped 87% of the time, versus those who were white. I promise I’m not just cherry

picking numbers, because if you look at the data there has never been a time when the white population in New York where the stop and frisk rates were higher than those of Blacks and Latinx. Also worth noting, in 2011, 88% of those stopped were innocent.


This is obviously is just one data point, but many others exists. For instance, I’ve seen many argue that blacks commit more crimes than whites (approximately 50%) and that we make up only 13% of the population. This statistic is flawed and lacks context, so let me see if I can help clarify it. It’s true that blacks make up 13% of the population, but we do not commit 50% of all crimes. Here’s my rationale, if you look at readily available data, I just randomly chose 2017 because it was easy to find, there were 10.5 million “offenses” in the country.

If you look at the murder rate (12,210 murders) blacks were arrested approximately 53% of the time, nowhere else in the data does it show blacks were responsible for more crimes than whites, with the exception of gambling. As a matter of fact, out of the 10.5 million “offenses”, whites are responsible for nearly 70% of all crimes. So it would reason to ask the question, why is it that Black Americans are three times the risk of being killed by police? That’s the debate America needs to have.

All that said, I’m not blaming police, law enforcement, white people, or even the President. I think the problem and solution is found both within the same system that can fix it. That’s the beauty of this country, right? Our system of government is uniquely designed to course correct when necessary.


To my brothers and sisters in law enforcement, please know that my personal dismay about this moment isn’t with you. I have plenty of friends who currently are serving, or have retired from law enforcement, and can look at the George Floyd incident and see that something is wrong. That very system is one that puts police officers at odds with the communities they are sometimes sworn to protect, and that’s not right. We rely on law enforcement to keep us safe, to uphold the law, and to be role models for the community. The acts of a few officers should be not be representative of an entire group of people who took an oath to serve and protect. Much like in the same way, the disgraced Navy Seal, Eddie Gallagher, is not representative of our armed forces. To pre-judge all law enforcement is antithetical to the fight against prejudice against people of color.

Derek Chauvin


The police officer involved in George’s death is a 19 year veteran of the police force, and spent eight years as a military policeman in the Army Reserve.


His wife, Kellie Chauvin, who recently divorced him said about Derek that, “Under all that uniform, he’s just a softie, He’s such a gentleman. He still opens the door for me, still puts my coat on for me. After my divorce [previous marriage], I had a list of must-haves if I were ever to be in a relationship, and he fit all of them.”

(source: https://apnews.com/18e9e17654cc4ca89ab1e081a6754bb2)

Derek won two medals of valor, first one in 2006 when he shot Wayne Reyes who ran away after stabbing his girlfriend and a male friend. He collected the second award for shooting a criminal in the stomach who was hiding in the bathroom. It was reported for ‘Domestic Violence’. Chauvin has collected several other accolades for chasing and capturing violent criminals. In 2008, he captured a suspect having an illegal pistol in his hands. The next year, off-duty, he took out a group of gang members all by himself while working for El Neuvo Rodeo (a Minneapolis Midnight Club) as a security guard.

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/tasneemnashrulla/minneapolis-derek-chauvin-history-of-complaints-george-floyd


Throughout Chauvin’s 19 years of service, he has received 18 complaints but only one that resulted in disciplinary action. It occurred in August 2007 in a neighborhood just south of downtown Minneapolis. Chauvin was accused of pulling a woman out of her car after stopping her for going 10 mph over the speed limit. Melissa Borton was returning to her Minneapolis home to unpack groceries after a trip to the grocery store with her 2-month-old child and 5-year-old German shepherd.


According to the LA Times (https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-06-04/woman-recalls-minneapolis-officer-derek-chauvin-2007-traffic-stop)

“Chauvin and an unnamed officer “without a word” reached inside her car, unlocked the door and began pulling her out while she was still strapped in”

As Borton was being pulled from her vehicle, she remembers hearing her “hysterical” crying newborn and barking dog. The officers put her in the back seat of their squad car. As she sat there, the front of her gray T-shirt began to get soaked with breast milk.


“You probably have postpartum depression,” she recalled an officer saying. “You should get help for that.”


After about 15 minutes, they let her go without further explanation.

Final thoughts


Many people have been quick to draw conclusions on the events surrounding George Floyd’s death. These conclusions have caused people to react in a myriad of different ways, some productive and some destructive, and frankly it’s a tragedy that so many are focused solely on their point of view and hesitant to take the time to fully understand that complex issues are rarely understood quickly. This tragic event has, at the center, a complex array of characters, a political and socioeconomic system that divides us more than it unites, and a global pandemic that challenges our core ability to express our dismay about the situation. The quote listed at the very beginning of this blog,

"Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world" - Archimedes


I think offers a unique way to view the events of the past week. You see we have an opportunity to view George Floyd’s death as more than just another fatality, but rather a fulcrum for the long history of racial injustice we have had in this country. I don’t know if his death was racially motivated, nor do I know if it was born out of outdated policing policies and training. But it’s undeniable that his death provided a definite pivot point around which the long lever of injustice for people of color would move the world. It is up to us, as American brothers and sisters to find common ground and not let George’s life, and all of the protest that have spurred a national conversation about race, be in vain. We’ve got this.


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