George Floyd was killed on the street without reason or need. He was murdered by a police officer while the officer’s colleagues looked on. His neck was kneeled on for almost nine minutes, while he could he begged to be allowed to breath. It was horrific and the response was – quite rightly – one of utter outrage.
Protests followed, not only because of the incident but the wider sense of institutionalised racism among the police and the US in general didn’t need much of a touchpaper to ignite. George Floyd’s killing, the current climate, and inflammatory words from those in authority set in motion an inevitable series of events. Naturally enough what started as a protest soon became worse, far worse. Of course people were going to use it as an excuse to steal five televisions, of course the police were going to provide plenty of examples of their heavy handedness and brutality. Of course people were going to die.
Online we naturally saw people pointing out George Floyd was not a good man. He’d indulged in crime, terrorised others, not a great guy. But how does that change the fact he was killed by police when they already had him under control? The police are there to enforce the law not to act as judge, jury, and executioner. No matter what the man did he was a man who was needlessly killed, that I assume is the legacy people refer to. No, I don’t think canonisation of the man is reasonable but I fully understand it, people want a rallying point and it’s hard to rally around someone who really wasn’t all that great.
Regardless, there is no justification for what happened. There never could be. Yet people naturally tried because we all want the world to conform to our view, we all see it through our lens. Others were naturally disgusted with this approach, it was racism they would cry. Anyone trying to justify violence is simply a part of the problem, disgusting, heartless. I might well agree, I’d agree even more quickly if those decrying these activities didn’t indulge in them so wholeheartedly.
I watched a video of an elderly white shopkeeper being beaten by a group of “protesters” who were smashing up her shop. Surely there’s no defending that? Well no, the explanations always start with “Not that I’m justifying it but…” and then they’d explain she called them “the N word”. I couldn’t hear it in the video but even if she did they beat her like a ginger step child and even used planks of wood to do it. An older woman. Apparently “that’s what happens”. Imagine saying that about George Floyd? About a genuine protester who gets pepper sprayed and hit with a baton? “That’s what happens”.
A car full of black people drives through the crowds, some moronic white bloke outstretches his arms. I imagine he says something the people in the car don’t like because they stop the car and knock him out. Again, people jumping in saying “he must have said something” or one guy saying “His mouth wrote a cheque his body couldn’t cash. It’s not our fault white people can’t fight”. How does “It’s not our fault black people are so violent” sound? Personally I think it sounds fucking awful but apparently – on Twitter – I’m either wrong or find myself surrounded by the kind of white folks who spell black with an N and two G’s. Not company I enjoy.
Does anybody truly believe, even for a moment, that anything will be solved while we leave it to the worst examples of our people and then look for ways to justify their actions? Guys stealing five TV’s “Racism, they’re reacting to racism”. No they aren’t, they’re thieving scum who just happen to be black. Here in the UK when we had protests a few years ago and people did the same, I saw a lot of people who were “reacting to police brutality and poverty” stealing items from shops and setting fire to what they didn’t want. They weren’t victims, they were fucking criminals.
Take the knee, fight racism, fight oppression, do the right thing. But for pity’s sake stop turning it into a fucking competition and bending over backwards to excuse the actions of those you’re uncomfortable criticising, whether that’s black people, the police, or whoever. Being an arsehole is a universal human right, it’s the one thing we all have in common regardless of race, creed, or colour. Accept it, but stop embracing it.