We have just witnessed the trial and conviction of the officer who executed motorist George Floyd while he lay unarmed and in full restraints. Hard on the heels of this came the first anniversary of his death and there was much made of the apparent progress America has achieved in the wake of this event. Just as there was much made of the event itself. People all around the world were horrified as they watched the slow-motion murder replayed over and over again. As admirable as their sentiments are, they missed the truly monstrous aspect of this event. Which lay in the utterly mundane, routine nature of the actions the police took that day. It is revealed in the boiler-plate language of the police reports which record only that “… suspect died as a result of a medical incident.” as though they were all standing around and he had a sudden heart attack! The reports read like a set-piece with Floyd as the villain, but when they are read side by side with a viewing of the video available from the event, we can see that they are diametrically opposed to the reality that played out that day. Yet not a single officer was censured for, or charged with “Falsification of official records.” which is a crime in all jurisdictions within the United States. Their superiors were so accustomed to this blatant pattern of fabricating facts around the use of force involving black men, that it occasioned little or no comment, and definitely no “official” notice. Is this not evidence of a culture hostile to the health and well-being of people of color in the custody of law enforcement?

In watching the trial of this one officer who was only partially responsible for the execution of Mr. Floyd, a lot of attention was paid to language. They were very careful how they referred to the defendant. They never called him a killer, murderer, criminal, coward etc. They never took a deep dive into his character or his past, his attitudes regarding race, politics, drug use or policing, all of which may have played their parts in how he approached the situation he found himself in that day. After all, his state of mind were supposed to be key to both sides. Was it strange that neither side pursued the personal connection between the two men? The fact that they worked as bouncers at the same bar at the same time suggests the potential for personal animus as a motivation for the officer’s actions.

I also found it significant that throughout the trial, and all the media coverage leading up to it, the press referred to the defendant as a “former officer” seeming to imply in the subtext that he was not associated with the legitimate police force when he committed his crime. This was a new twist in how these cases are handled, perhaps it is an effort to give other officers a pretext by which they can disassociate themselves from the criminal actions of other police. To make a public distinction that the crime was committed by a “former officer” and is no reflection on the brave men and women who continue to serve.

I failed to find any such care given to how Mr. Floyd was portrayed. His past was mined for any negative tidbit that could then be displayed before the jury. His size was repeatedly emphasized, he was called aggressive, intimidating, thuggish, criminal, counterfeiter, drug addict, felon, liar, cheater etc… All in an effort to excuse, mitigate or expiate the cold-blooded acts of his murders. I thought we were done vilifying the victims when it became illegal to bring up a woman’s sexual history in a rape trial! There were many names which suit George Floyd; Son, brother, uncle, father, grandson, friend and yes MURDER VICTIM. I think the most telling name of all is the one that was never used by either the prosecution or the defense; Citizen. The culture of “otherism” is alive and well in America because even those who are sympathetic to us in government don’t see us as real Americans, as citizens fully participating in our franchise. An integral part of the group whom the police are sworn to “protect and serve”. But rather as an alien infestation from which the true citizens of this nation must be protected, despite all evidence to the contrary. How can you combat such deeply ingrained bias? Peace.

T. L. Thomas-Bey #194430