I have had many people ask me this question through social media, some have been listening to racist propaganda, which exaggerates George Floyd’s chequered past, others just want a reason to find disagreement in the fight against racism and others are ignorant and refused to educate themselves out of their ignorance. Below is my answer to these people.
Should George Floyd’s criminal past justify him being killed at the hands of the police? That is probably the simplest response.
However, there is more to this question and answer than to merely respond with another question.
Let me explain.
Yes, George Floyd had a criminal past. Yes, George Floyd was being arrested on suspicion of using a fake cheque.
So, why is his name remembered? Why is his picture shown throughout the world?
I understand that this is a difficult concept to grasp. To some, it may feel as though George Floyd is being held up as the new Messiah.
This assumption is totally untrue.
What was George Floyd’s criminal history?
Lets start with his criminal past. George Floyd was arrested multiple times (six in total) between 1997 and 2005. Four of these were regarding possession of small amounts of cocaine, one was for criminal trespassing and the other was a failure to identify himself to police.
The final charge, which was far worse, was a burglar. It was a combined attempt, with four other men, to find drugs. The five men, including George Floyd, eventually left the property with jewellery, but not before the female resident was struck on her head and side for calling out for help.
There is no official report to indicate that the woman was pregnant, as Candice Owens states is the case. Floyd served five years in prison after pleading guilty to this incident.
On the day that Floyd was killed, police were answering a call about a black man who had used a $20 counterfeit bill to purchase cigarettes.
To understand why the assumption that black people chose George Floyd is false, you have to understand what has been happening in the US over a number of years.
Back in March 1991, the world watched in outrage as a number of police officers set upon Rodney King, an unarmed black man, with force.
The officers responsible claimed in court that King was resisting arrest and none of them were convicted.
Riots ensued, which resulted in 50 people dying and a billion dollars worth of damage.
This event has huge similarities with what happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis. Both men had previous criminal records, both incidents were filmed, and both incidents involved police violence on an unarmed man with the police later claiming that the violence was justified as the victim was “resisting” arrest. The only real significant difference in these events is that George Floyd died, while Rodney King survived the attack despite suffering eleven fractures, including a fractured facial bone.
The most important similarity in what happened to both men was that the huge media attention that influenced white people to pay attention.
The UK also had a very similar incident in 2015, where Sheku Bayoh, a 31year old black man and father of two, was killed by police in Fife, when they were called out because of a report which stated that Bayoh had a knife. When the police arrived, he was unarmed.
Bayoh was attacked by nine police officers with batons and irritant spray, who had him on the ground struggling with 45 seconds of their arrival on the scene. With his legs and hands bound the officers knelt and laid on him.
Bayoh was pronounced dead in the hospital. The police for the last 5 years have been continuously changing their story of the events that took place. No officers have been charged.
This event was not filmed and never reached social media and as such, no matter how much black people campaigned, without white people and the media choosing to draw attention to this incident it never reached the heights of emotional reaction that followed Floyd’s death or King’s beating.
Black people didn’t chose George Floyd. The white public did.
This statement may require further explanation.
Firstly, there have been previous protests throughout the U.S. against black people being killed by police. In fact, in 2015, Black Lives Matter protesters, in America, marched against fourteen killings by police, prior to George Floyd. Black people chose every one of those people, as much as they chose George Floyd.
So, why did the white public chose George Floyd?
Was it because of the manner in which he was killed (choking)? Was it because his death was filmed? Or was it because he called out numerous times “I can’t breathe”? If it was, then the world would have stood up against the killing of Eric Garner, who all of the above applied to.
Eric Garner died in 2014 because he was alleged to be selling loose cigarettes. Office Danial Pantaleo put Garner in a chokehold and even though he stated numerous time “I can’t breathe”, he was killed. (Year 2014) The Grand jury declined any indictment of the officer.
But the world, outside of the US, only learned of Eric Garner’s name after the death of George Floyd.
So, what other reason was there. Well, George Floyd pleading for his mother was key, as was the duration of time for which Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck. However, in my opinion it was about timing.
On the day George Floyd was killed, the 25th of May 2020, another event was taken place and was also being filmed in Central Park.
On the 25th of May, in Central Park, the first “Karen” came to notoriety. Her name was Amy Cooper and she was filmed showing the power a white woman had against black people, even when she herself was breaking the law.
Amy Cooper was in Central Park early. Amy’s dog and had her dog was off it’s lead, which, in Central Park, is a criminal offence.
Christian Cooper (not related to Amy), a black man, was also in the park bird watching and approached Amy Cooper to ask her to put her dog on the lead. Which Amy Cooper took offence to this and after responding rudely to Christian, phoned the police stating that a black man is threatening her.
Fortunately, by time the police arrived, Christian had left. However, it showed that Amy knew the power of calling the police on a black person and the threat it held. With Both these events being filmed on the same day, it was difficult for anyone in America, black or white, to ignore the fact that they lived in a racist society.
So, in response to the original question “Why George Floyd when he’s a criminal?”
George Floyd’s criminal past isn’t the issue. Black people, in the U.S. protest against every black person being shot by police, if they believe it was unjustified. Amy Cooper represented the tinder of a fire, Derek Chauvin represented the match and social media, the news and the initial response from the Minneapolis
police force represented the wood (fuel) that grew and sustained the fire.
No one worships George Floyd. We all mourn his death and use every metaphorical burning log to ignite another fire in remembrance of the previous black lives lost at the hands of the police.