On May 25, 2020, George Perry Floyd, was alive.
On that day, and every day prior to that day, George Floyd walked and talked and prayed and fell in love and – again, I cannot stress this enough – most of all, he was alive.
Then he wasn’t.
When George Floyd was two years old, his mother moved the family from one part of the wealthiest country in the world to another part, where the United States government told financial institutions not to lend Black people money to buy real estate. Instead, the United States government used the land to enforce Jim Crow segregation policies and build the Cuney Homes, where the Floyd family would live. Still, George Floyd lived.
As an alive high school student, George Floyd was valuable. He was captain of his basketball team and led his football team to the Texas state championship. He was so valuable, that a South Florida college paid him to move across the wealthiest country in the world again. George Floyd, who was still alive, became the first member of his family to be deemed valuable enough for someone to pluck out of the segregated, impoverished place in the wealthiest country in the world...To play basketball... Alive.
After attending another college, George Floyd dropped out of college because he was no longer valuable and he couldn’t afford to educate himself in the wealthiest country in the world. Being alive was not enough, so he moved back to the racially segregated pocket of poverty that was created by the government colluding with financial institutions.
In 1997, when he was 22 years old, police arrested Floyd in the state-sanctioned poverty project for possessing less than $100 worth of an illegal substance. Although it was the first time he had been convicted, agents of the American criminal justice system decided to rehabilitate him by locking him in a cage for six months. This made him less valuable but still, he was alive.
George Floyd played basketball. George Floyd fathered five children. George Floyd prayed. George Floyd danced. He made people laugh. He also spent more than a third of his twenties in various cages for possessing less than a teaspoon of the illegal substance or for the theft of somewhere between $50 or $500. This was a normal solution for Black people who lived in the government-created poor part of the richest country in the world. To escape, George Floyd moved away from the poor place in the rich country.
When he arrived in Minnesota, he was alive...
Until he met Derek Chauvin.
Derek Chauvin is alive. He carried a gun. He kills people.
Derek Chauvin grew up in a white town that was not poor or segregated, but Derek Chauvin is white, so he was valuable. He did not graduate from high school, but he is white, so he is valuable. In his 19 years as a police officer, 18 citizens complained to the police department about him but he was only disciplined for two incidents. He was a police officer, which made him valuable. And alive.
When Derek Chauvin arrived on E. 38th Street on May 25, 2020, he had already been involved in three on-duty shootings. He had been accused of violence and racism, but he was a white police officer, so he was valuable. He had already shot an unarmed man. He had already killed someone. He had never been locked in a cage. He had never died.
When Chauvin arrived to help three other officers put one man named George Floyd into a car so they could put him in a cage over $20, he had a stick. He had an instrument that electrocutes people with enough voltage to jump-start a Mack truck. He had a gun like the one he used to shoot the unarmed man and kill another. Instead of using his mouth or a stick or a Taser or his hands, Derek Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd’s neck.
As Derek Chauvin knelt, three other gun-toting employees of the Minneapolis Police Department did nothing. While he knelt, an expert in choking people to death told Chauvin that George Floyd was dying. While he knelt, an expert in stopping people from dying told Chauvin that George Floyd was dying. While he knelt, George Floyd told Derek Chauvin he was dying.
Derek Chauvin did not move until George Floyd died.
He had already killed someone. People had already called him racist. On Tuesday, April 20, 2021, a jury decided that Derek Chauvin was a murderer, and everyone cheered. All it took was 6 eyewitnesses, 5 camera angles, four experts, three of Chauvin’s fellow police officers testifying against him and a prosecutor who was willing to prosecute.
The jury did not consider poverty. They did not deliberate about all the years in all the cages. They did not issue a ruling on the illegal teaspoons of substance or the schools or the projects or any part of the wealthiest country in the world. The country has yet to consider the armed accomplices or the gun-toters who recover $20 or the guns or the laws or the statistics or anything that happened before the knee landed on George Floyd’s neck.
Once upon a time, an alive man who lived and breathed and talked and walked and loved stopped breathing.
He is not alive.
If this world lasts forever, George Floyd will never pray or smile or kiss his mama or hold his children or love a thing again. And nothing that happened on Tuesday will stop that from happening again.
George Floyd is not alive.
But that’s justice... I guess.