Written by The Skimm staff
[Editor’s Note: This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Grapevine Source or its staff. This is published because it addresses one of the major divides in the US today.]
One year ago today, George Floyd was murdered.
On May 25, 2020, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd by kneeling on his neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. The 46-year-old Black man cried out “I can’t breathe” 27 times. Video of his murder went viral and reinvigorated the Black Lives Matter movement. Floyd’s name and last words became a rallying cry at protests across the country and the world. In the past year, the US grappled with its record on race. And European countries joined in on examining their own racist and colonial past.
There’s been some change toward police reform. At least 17 states have banned or restricted police use of chokeholds. More than 20 major US cities (think: LA, Seattle, Austin) cut their police budgets in some way. Some have reinvested the money into services like mental health and housing programs. And in a rare moment of police accountability, Chauvin was found guilty of all charges (including second-degree murder). He will be sentenced next month. But many families – like those of Breonna Taylor, Daniel Prude, and Ronald Greene – are still waiting for justice.
In the first five months of 2021, one analysis found that 353 people died at the hands of law enforcement. A report by human rights experts found that the US’s deadly police killings of Black Americans could amount to crimes against humanity. And called on officials to act. But Congress is likely going to miss President Biden’s deadline to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. Meanwhile, some states are going the opposite route – like trying to punish cities that vote to cut police funding, or banning lessons on critical race theory (more on that here). And some lawmakers still maintain the US “is not a racist country” – despite an alarming rise in hate crimes.