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Protest Pressure Leads to More Charges in George Floyd Murder

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Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin will now face charges for second-degree murder in the Memorial Day killing of George Floyd. Three other officers serving with Chauvin during that fatal incident have also been charged for aiding and abetting in the murder. 

The new and elevated charges announced by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison Wednesday come after more than a week of sustained civil action and unrest across the nation.

Ellison said in a press conference Wednesday:

“George Floyd mattered. He was loved. His family was important. His life had value. And we will seek justice for him, and for you, and we will find it.”

Acknowledging that frustration and lack of injustice existed long before outrage sparked by Floyd’s death, Ellison added:

“The very fact that we filed these charges means that we believe in them. But what I do not believe is that one successful prosecution can rectify the hurt and loss that so many people feel.”

In the course of the nine days since Floyd’s death, peaceful protesters have filled streets and highways day after day, city after city, across the whole of the country. There’s a palpable sentiment that enough is finally enough. 

Wall spray painted with the words “George Floyd Mattered RIP.” Photo by Lorie Shaull.

It was once Oscar Grant. It was Eric Garner. It was Trayvon Martin. It was Michael Brown. It was Tamir Rice. It was unfortunately countless other black and brown men, women and children. It’s lives taken needlessly, violently and without cause…and it’s the lack of accountability and legal recourse against the people who are charged with protecting those lives but take them instead.

It’s generations of protests about the same thing, legislative attempts to fix the same thing, only to find we’re dealing with the same damn thing year after year. The pot boiled in 1968, and again in 2015…but the feeling today and over this past week does not seem as if it will be easily diffused. 

The president, who we’ve historically turned to in tumultuous times for leadership and unity, has acted instead as a fan to the flame. His lack of empathy, sincerity and general understanding of the plight motivating protests and the violence make him ill equipped to douse the unrest. He has chosen to dig into the “thug” narrative, advancing purposefully false information and threatening violence. But violence begets violence, inevitably, and degradation rarely leads to solutions.

 

Trump’s call for governors to request the National Guard and to toughen up on “thugs” has been applauded by many considered to already be part of his voter base, but the language and rhetoric are provocative dog whistles to the rest of the country. 

Trump, in this light, prolongs the fury and progresses the progressive call for racial justice and systemic reform. Just by speaking or tweeting, he’s managed to further incite mass chaos and anger, which steadily draws ordinarily tame people out to the streets. 

Curfews have been imposed in cities, counties and states nationally making it largely illegal for nonexempt people to be out past 8 p.m. and before 5 p.m., or within a similar timeframe. In contrast, San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced a decision to lift the city’s curfew orders as of Thursday morning.

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.

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