After the recent murder of black man George Floyd at the hands of white police officer Derek Chauvin, protesters took to the streets to call for justice. The situation is eerily similar to the acquittal of four white Los Angeles Police Department officers in the beating of black motorist Rodney King.
Rodney King Was A Victim Of Police Brutality Much Like George Floyd
In 1992, King was brutally beaten by police officers after resisting arrest in Los Angeles county. Local surveillance cameras caught the incident on tape as King was repeatedly hit by police batons, knocked to the ground and tasered. George Holliday, an amateur photographer caught the graphic beating on video as well. He submitted the video to local television station KTLA and it became an instant media sensation to raise awareness for police brutality against black people. Similarly in the more recent Floyd case, police officers stopped Floyd for suspicion of using a counterfeit bill. Darnella Frazier was walking with her cousin to the store when she began to record the tussle between Floyd and Chauvin. In the now-viral video, Chauvin is seen with his knee resting on Floyd’s neck leaving him unable to breathe. He died at the scene.
Both instances demonstrate police brutality against unarmed black men and the extra use of force for non-violent crimes. We can see how powerful the use of video has become to raise awareness for such racism and unlawful acts, especially within the police force. The difference here is, Floyd died. Does this mean that society has taken a step backwards with systemic racism and police brutality?
Riots Broke Out After Global Outrage
Four white police officers were acquitted in the beating of King. The other 17 officers that stood by and watched the beating take place also received no punishment. This left people not only in Los Angeles but all over the world angry that these officers were getting away with such brutality. They started riots throughout the city over a six-day period out of sheer anger and frustration over this verdict. People set over 3,000 fires and destroyed over 1,000 buildings in their rage. Widespread looting also began leading some people to be injured, or even worse, killed.
This is similar to the protests currently going on in Minneapolis, the site of Floyd’s murder. People are currently setting the city ablaze and looting local stores because they are angry. Floyd’s family did call for peaceful protests, however, they understand the outrage over the fact that another black man had his life taken at the hands of a white officer. Protesters even set a police station on fire, which has never been done before during any of the past unrest after a case like this. Twitter users documented the flames ravaging the city and the police station, a harrowing site that protesters hope can finally lead to change for the black community.
Will There Finally Be Any Real Change In Society?
One Twitter user documented past situations in which black men died at the hands of racist practices. One thing that each of them has in common is that nothing has changed. There is still very blatantly racism present in society and it needs to end. That is why people are so adamant about protesting and showing that they will not be silenced when black people lose their lives. Whether it’s Rodney King, the Birmingham church bombings or the death of Elijah Doughty, it all seems like the same cycle. There has been a lack of justice and a lot of racism still afflicting the actions of those who carry out this brutality on the black community.
In the case of Floyd, he has people around the world calling for change and the fact that the video of his death reached millions of people could quite possibly take down the systemic racism present in society. Outreach is very important and staying silent does nothing.
These protests express outrage that each of the officers involved in Floyd’s death were not immediately arrested. It is not yet clear if they will be tried for murder.