“The defendant had his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in total,” the criminal complaint against Derek Chauvin reads. “Two minutes and 53 seconds of this was after Mr. Floyd was non-responsive.”
There are scary things happening right now. Even before these protests broke out around America, we (and everyone around the world) had been riding the uncertainty of a future afflicted by pandemic and quarantine. Millions have lost their jobs, the worst possible time for that since America ties its healthcare so closely to employment, and that single $1200 stimulus check from April is little help as we enter June with no further relief on the horizon. I’m one of the fortunate ones because my company could transition my workload to be entirely online (admittedly I wish I had healthcare, but at least I have the means to isolate myself from situations that would put me at risk of catching anything.)
I’ve spent a few days talking with Medic, deciding if I wanted to publically come out in support of the current Black Lives Matter protests. It’s a bit off-brand for a gaming news site, plus the core of the movement is providing a voice to those who normally have been silenced, not hearing from the same white folks (like me) who have never had trouble finding an audience for anything we want to say. But as more and more evidence of police brutality piles up, hundreds of GIFs and videos of atrocities being committed against innocent civilians and media spectators…there comes a time where no sane person can look away quietly.
In these times, with the atrocities being committed against protestors by our government and police force, with widespread pandemic and unemployment and no promise of relief on the horizon, I don’t like to talk in terms of being on “the right side of history.” My father was on the right side of history when he got arrested in New York during the Occupy movement, but the power in such movements (and those of everyone who voices support) is in the effect they have on the current system, in the changes they bring about. Occupy, unfortunately, brought about very little actual change. Wikipedia has a great list on the likely reasons Occupy failed, and it’s reassuring that the current protests are not making the same mistakes. They have very clear demands, demands I completely support: Demilitarize the police and pass accountability laws to prohibit the rampant police brutality they’ve gotten away with for so long. Reform criminal justice laws to end the discrimination of mass incarceration. These seem like common sense in any society that considers itself civilized, but history has long demonstrated that progressive change never comes as easily as it should.
Racism is still, unfortunately, pervasive in this country, as much as many people like to believe it’s a thing of the past. This isn’t the first movement putting their lives at risk to fight the injustices deep-rooted within our society, and it won’t be the last.