The fight to eradicate discrimination deeply rooted in history is a challenge with a long road ahead
The wave of protests and riots spreading throughout the United States over multiple consecutive nights as a result of the death of George Floyd, who was slowly choked under the knee of a police officer in Minneapolis, demands a response from President Donald Trump. It requires measurements to be put in place to restore order and, given that ending racial discrimination is a long-term fight, the implementation of procedures that will be effective in limiting these police abuses that are all too frequently affecting the black community.
Instead, up until now Trump hasn’t deviated from his familiar strategy of finding a scapegoat that he can use to quickly exonerate himself of any responsibility whenever he is faced with a problem. Far from being aware that the words spoken by the president of the United States are not just those of another citizen, the leader has sought out those responsible practically everywhere before recognizing the true origins of the situation. He’s put the blame on governors for not knowing how to control the situation, he’s accused the “extreme left” of being behind the riots, he’s even started to threaten the protesters gathered outside the White House, telling them that if they breach the fence he’ll attack them with “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons.” Anything but face up to the police brutality that has made millions of Americans view uniformed police officers not as servants of the community, but as a threat.
The steady trickle of deaths of black citizens at the hands of police during the process of arrest or identification has been going on for so long that it would be naive to speak of isolated incidents. George Floyd is the latest case in a succession that has included, among others, Rodney King, a taxi driver beaten to death in 1992; Eric Garner, strangled in 2014 while he was being detained for the illegal sale of tobacco; or Walter Scott, a driver who in 2015 was shot several times in the back.
COVID-19 has once again illustrated the vulnerable situation of a minority that forms 12% of the U.S. population. In proportion to the population as a whole, the black community has the highest number of infected people — while also being the ethnic group with the lowest income level — and have been the worst-affected by unprecedented job losses, since 1929. In this context, the images of police officer Derek Chauvin sitting with his hands in his pockets while Floyd suffocated have been the spark that started the revolt. Restoring order, and most importantly limiting and punishing abuses against black citizens, is urgent. The fight to eradicate discrimination rooted way back in history is a challenge with a long road ahead; stopping excessive policing is, until then, a pressing need.
About this publication