The day that George Floyd was killed by Police Officer Derek Chauvin seems to have become a red-letter date in U.S. history, almost equivalent to 9/11. The nine-and-a-half-minute event, recorded on smart phones and transmitted over the worldwide web, has become a watershed moment for our country.
Within 24 hours, citizens were protesting, buildings were burning, police were battling. And it went on for months. Protests occurred in 2,000 cities in over 60 countries. Certainly, the vast majority of events were peaceful. However, in addition to the murder of George Floyd, the toll included 25 deaths, 14,000 arrests, and well over a billion dollars in property damage to 1,500 locations. This was the most destructive period of civil unrest in United States history.
It must be that something quite profound caused all this to happen.
We should be reflective and honest with ourselves as to the underlying cause of this massive and widespread reaction. What was triggered on May 26th last year? Were there multiple converging factors? Was this a pre-planned reaction? Did something “boil over?” What do you think?
What were the underlying factors behind the massive, widespread and in some cases violent reaction to the death of George Floyd?
How do you explain the underlying cause of what happened?
What does your explanation tell us about the current state of race relations in the United States?
Please share your thoughts below.
There has been hope for America to rise above its flaws and realize its creed of true justice and equality. That hope has been tarnished with far too many incidents. Christianity claims the highest ideals and is the religion America has embraced since before its founding. Both have failed to deliver. Call it a tipping point, call it a moment where those who hate this country used it to loudly show its failures and this just fanned the desires to see America destroyed. There is no easier target than a nation that is arrogant, rich, and condescending to a world less fortunate.
I listened to a presentation by Rev Daryl Clarke, a leader of African Diaspora Leadership Conference. He stated that the murder of George Floyd was a “Providence for the Start.” This means he believes that the event marked the beginning of a new providential era in our country. I had to think long and hard about that, but I concluded he is right. I have done quite a bit of reading on it, most research is about why the demonstrators were violent. But, I think you are making a good point. Our country has become an easy target for those who are fed up with unprincipled injustice. The 9 minute video, viewed worldwide, was gasoline thrown on a long-smoldering fire.
Thirty years ago the beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles Police offices was video taped and broadcast on network television nationwide. Demonstrations, riots and looting ensued in many communities nationwide. What was the underlaying cause then? Were there community organizations and activists behind this? There ere probably were, but the rage at the videotaped beating and then the acquittal of all charges brought against the offices confirmed, in the minds of generation of young men in urban America, that “their” America was not fair to them.The video taping I thing was the sparking event. Fast forward to the killing of George Floyd, 8:39 caught and shard by social media worldwide at breathtaking speed and seen by millions within hours I think caused a similar a spark.The media in both cases spread the event quickly. One underlaying cause is the rage felt by the poor in urban America. And organizations… Read more »
I live in Minnesota and used to live a few blocks from where this happened. In my view, one of the major reasons this was inflamed so quickly and strongly was that Mayor Jacob Frey and Governor Tim Walz prejudged the event and called it a racist murder before any evidence (except the video) that it was racism or murder. Government leaders should follow the law and exercise caution, not fan the flames.
Antifa members arrived very quickly and the Black Lives Matter movement pounced on this quickly. Keith Ellison’s (attorney general) and his son, who is on the city council were strong supporters of these groups and the “defund the police” movement. When rioters began looting and attacking police precincts, Frey, seemingly siding with them, said “it’s only property.”
In my view, this was foremost a failure of the Mayor of Minneapolis and the Governor of Minnesota.
Newspaper people by the very nature of the work they do must know the pulse of what they are covering. Knowing how volatile the videos were and knowing the likely reaction viewing it would arouse in Afro Americans they rushed to air it. It is a valid ethical question to ask, “Is the rush to make public such news a public service or a public disservice?” Is holding back in reporting a cover up or a prudent step knowing the likely reactions? Does such reporting contain a moral choice, a moral dilemma?
Thanks for your helpful explanation regarding local events. But as you know, and as the essay explains, there was a nationwide reaction, even a worldwide to the Chauvin/Floyd video. The reaction was like a spark that lit a local fire, that then became a forest fire, spreading like an inferno moving rapidly across the national terrain. Why was there so much dry fuel, ready to ignite into flames, in hundreds and hundreds of cities?