Like so many names before and even after him, the murder of George Floyd by a former police officer who placed his knee on his neck for 9 minutes, 29 seconds marks yet another milestone in the continued struggle against racism and profiling of Americans by Americans.
As the jury found Derek Chauvin guilty of three counts, second degree murder, third degree murder and second degree manslaughter, he sat there blinking his eyes, with a smirk on his face hidden by his mask. The same smirk he wore as he murdered Floyd on camera, which was also seen at different points throughout his trial.
That is not the look of a man who made a mistake or took a bad decision. It is the look of a misplaced infallibility, as if he is untouchable, protected on account of his official status, a former police officer.
Worse, as a Field Training Officer, Chauvin was also responsible for evaluating officers coming out of the police academy, and he was training an officer on the day he murdered Floyd.
In season 3 of the popular TV show The Rookie, broadcast earlier this year, eclipsed with a scene where a racist police training officer, Doug Stanton, allowed his black trainee to be attacked by a gang without intervening.
Though a fictional scene in a fictional show, it is a reflection of racism found in the American police force, a reminder that these issues are very real and need to be addressed.
Speaking on BBC Newsnight, CK Hoffler, the President of the US National Bar Association said, “There is a message being sent to law enforcement, there is a message being sent to the police unions. This is only going to be a game changer if we push for widespread reform at a federal level and at a state level: state by state by state. This could be the beginning of a very positive movement.”
Aleem Maqbool, the BBC’s North America correspondent, added “It is very rare for police officers to go on trial when they kill. The fact that he has been convicted is a big moment. Even during the three weeks of this trial, other people have been killed by the police. They won’t have the same profile; they won’t have the same pressure on the legal system as this one does.”
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Rising Above Racism
From a religious perspective, Ramadan gives us a moment to pause and contemplate. Pre-Islam and even during the early days of Islam in Arabia, society had a limited civil and legal structure, with affiliation to different tribes reflecting how society would treat you.
We saw this during the life of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and most notably with his first wife – a monogamous marriage of 25 years – to Khadija, who went from being a successful businesswoman protected by her uncle, to being reduced to hunger contributing to her death as she lost protection from her tribe.
Today, while tribal cultures may exist in some parts of the world, in most of what is termed the Western world, protection and safety shouldn’t come from who you know, it is a service provided to all in society without discrimination, at least in principle.
Chauvin tried to exploit a form of white supremacy, where a police officer feels untouchable and can act with impunity, but the system works proper this time and has prosecuted him.
The main difference between America and large swathes of the world where similar forms of injustice take place is that eventually the people rise and demand justice.
In this respect, despite the criminal behavior exerted by some, not always, but often, justice does prevail. However, until such time as a cultural shift takes place in the US, making murders like this an exception and not the norm, the struggle will always be real. #BlackLivesMatter
Whatever any person’s flaws, no human being deserves injustice. Rest in peace George Floyd. May God accept the good you have done in this life and grant you the best of the next, ameen.