Askia MuhammadColumnistsOp-EdOpinion

MUHAMMAD: Tears for George Floyd

I’ve got tears for George Floyd. Salty tears for George Floyd.

I’ve got tears for George Floyd, briny, grown-man tears for another grown man I never met.

George Floyd’s brutal murderer is on trial, but we’ve been tricked into having to defend the dead man, the victim in our minds.

Everyone who witnessed his execution last May 25 has tearfully testified to what happened that day: the 61-year-old cool breeze, Black dude wearing high fashion white-framed glasses; the off-duty emergency medical technician who offered to render assistance only to be rebuffed until she knew he was already dead, when she saw the urine flow from his lifeless body; the Cup Foods store clerk who wished he had just put $20 out of his own pocket into the cash register instead of calling the police to report the counterfeit bill the victim had given him; the child who made the video recording of the murderer with his knee on the victim’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds, who wanted to help him but was afraid she might also become a victim if she intervened; everyone who witnessed the gruesome scene that day has testified, except for the four cops who had a hand in killing him.

The police dispatcher who “called the police on the police” as she witnessed in horror in real time on surveillance video, was still in shock on the witness stand. The supervising police sergeant, who arrived on the scene just as the corpse was being transferred needlessly to an ambulance, crossed the “blue line of silence” and testified that the accused cop had gone too far. And neither the police lieutenant who’s been a cop in Minneapolis longer than anyone else on the force, nor the town’s chief of police would defend the assailant’s action.

Then there is the terrifying video of the accused with a hand in his pocket and his knee on George Floyd’s neck in a death-choke position, who’s then heard on bodycam video saying he never relented because the dying man might have tried something.

Instead, George Floyd complained 20 times that he couldn’t breathe. He begged for his “mama” eight times.

“Mama, I love you. I can’t do nothing,” he pleaded.

“Tell my children I love them,” George Floyd said. “Please. Please,” he pleaded again and again and again. “Oh my God. I’m dead. Please, please man, somebody help me! I can’t breathe.”

If George Floyd was guilty of the crime of which he had been accused, it was a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor! I’ve got tears for George Floyd.

The evidence against this murderer-former cop is so compelling. But hey, nearly 30 years ago the evidence against the Southern California cops accused of mercilessly beating Rodney King to a pulp was equally compelling, but the perpetrators walked from court, found innocent by a jury.

In this case, the circumstances suggest more tears are to be shed. Derek Chauvin, the cop whose knee on George Floyd’s neck rendered him lifeless has received as much as $1 million in legal defense funds to help him beat this charge. It is still true, folks with huge amounts of money in this country will spend it in to see to it that any and every White policeman is never convicted of killing a Black man in America.

Coincidentally, the two men both worked security at El Nuevo Rodeo on Tuesday nights, a local Minneapolis nightclub where popular weekly dance competitions were held. George Floyd worked inside. Chauvin, the perpetrator was paid to sit in his car outside.

I’ve got tears, salty tears for George Floyd, who would have been charged with a petty misdemeanor had he been arrested by this cop: maximum penalty, a $300 fine. Instead, he was tried, convicted, and put to death after pleading for his life, crying, begging for his mama, by a dude who may have secretly had some kind of grudge for a big, Black co-worker.

I’ve got salty tears for George Floyd, like the bystanders, like the millions of people who’ve watched this drama unfold in a courtroom on TV where his troubled past behavior is being held up for scrutiny, while the perpetrator who took his life is being defended with a $1 million slush fund.

While the jury has already heard about George Floyd’s drug abuse, they will likely also hear that Derek Chauvin received commendations from his police department, though never being told that his citations both involved his shooting a suspect, and surely never being told that he was the subject of 18 (count them) previous abuse complaints.

I’ve got tears for George Floyd, a victim who did not have to die, at the hands of a cop who appears to not have a heart.

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Askia Muhammad

WPFW News Director Askia Muhammad is also a poet, and a photojournalist. He is Senior Editor for The Final Call newspaper and he writes a weekly column in The Washington Informer.

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