Two years ago today, on May 25th 2020, George Floyd lost his life because he didn’t matter.
And as we try to make sense of the senseless shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas that left 19 children and two teachers dead, we are faced with another sobering reminder: Racism and gun violence are our culture.
Floyd’s murder happened in full view of onlookers. Those who were there and those who would watch the video later saw the, now-former, Minnesota cop Derek Chauvin put his hands in his pockets and snicker while Floyd—who was unarmed—gasped for air. As Floyd called for his late mother and cried out, “I can’t breathe,” Chauvin knelt on his
We never wanted to imagine that two years later, we would still be saddled with devastating violence after devastating violence and a system that refuses to change.
It’s been mere weeks since the horrific shooting that took the lives of 10 Black people at Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New York. They were gunned down and targeted because they were Black and we know that they are far from the last people to be killed because of their skin color.
Gun violence and racism have long gone hand in hand. The data proves that police brutality, usually involving guns, still threatens the survivability of Black lives. In 2021 alone, law enforcement was responsible for more than a thousand shooting deaths, reported the Washington Post. The publication also noted that while Black people “account for less than 13 percent of the U.S. population,” they are still “killed by police at more than twice the rate of white Americans.”
We watched the slaughtering of a Black man by a system that was designed to silence him. We watched protesters storm the streets for months, erect colorful murals in Floyd’s legacy, and pled for mass defunding of police departments. Yet, despite these years-long resounding cries demanding justice and police reform, we still aren’t even close to a resolution.
And as we approached the harrowing 2020 presidential elections—with far too much to lose had Donald Trump win reelection—the Biden/Harris ticket couldn’t afford going to extremes by putting defunding the police on the agenda. So we had to make do with the George Floyd Justince in Policing Act, a bill that was introduced on February 24, 2021 as an honorary tribute to the fallen and a small attempt at a path forward in the never-ending cycle of police brutality. The bill was supposed to help crackdown on the use of excessive force in police departments. It was later stalled by Senate Republicans who didn’t approve of legislation that aims to prevent more Black lives from suffering the fate of Floyd.
The Biden administration is following the rulebook of its predecessors, making sure the optics are clean and timely. On Wednesday, Biden prepared to sign an executive order slated to change the rules of law enforcement on the federal level. It will implement a new federal minimum standard that NPR says will allow force “only when no reasonably effective, safe and feasible alternative appears to exist.”
Two years after Floyd’s murder, this move still feels lackluster. If Floyd’s legacy means anything, there shouldn’t be this slow-as-molasses response to the problem. As we enter year three after his tragic death, the echoes of white supremacy in this country continue to reverberate louder and louder.