ARCP Fiftieth Edition Preface: Keith Ellison
The Death of George Floyd, the Trial of Derek Chauvin, and Deadly-Force Encounters with Police: Have We Finally Reached an Inflection Point? Or Will the Cycle of Inaction Continue?
“Mama!” George Floyd, 46, cried out in the waning moments of his life. “Mama! I’m through,” gasped Floyd as Derek Chauvin ground his knee into Floyd’s neck and face into the asphalt road surface. “I can’t breathe,” Floyd declared at least fifteen times during the first four minutes of seventeen-year-old Darnella Frazier’s smart-phone video. Then his voice faded, his pleas grew further apart, and he eventually went silent. Bystanders, shocked, appalled, and armed with smartphones, pleaded seventeen times with officers to check Floyd’s pulse.
As the world knows, George Floyd would not survive.
Do the worldwide demands for justice following the death of George Floyd and the trial and conviction of Derek Chauvin for Floyd’s murder mean we have finally reached an inflection point when it comes to deadly-force encounters with police? It depends.
The case of George Floyd was not typical, but no case is.
There are approximately 1,000 deaths at the hands of police a year. Footnote #1 content: Mark Berman, John Sullivan, Julie Tate & Jennifer Jenkins, Protests Spread Over Police Shootings. Police Promised Reforms. Every Year, They Still Shoot and Kill Nearly 1,000 People, WASH. POST (June 8, 2020), https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/protests-spread-over-police-shootings-police- promised-reforms-every-year-they-still-shoot-nearly-1000-people/2020/06/08/5c204f0c-a67c-11ea-b473- 04905b1af82b_story.html. That number has held constant for many years, including since the death of George Floyd. Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers on May 25, 2020 was not typical for many reasons.
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