Whatever the reasoning, it’s hard to imagine why police officer Derek Chauvin felt the need to keep his knee pressed hard against George Floyd’s neck for eight minutes, even after Floyd had stopped being responsive. What possible justification can there be for this? At what stage is this anything other than brutality?
It is a relief that Mr Chauvin has finally been arrested and charged with murder, with the case initially seeming like it wouldn’t get that far. Serious questions must be raised though. Would we have expected such a scene with a white person in George Floyd’s shoes? Probably not. Why did none of the other cops at the scene intervene, especially as Floyd’s pleas became more desperate?
In response to this there has been an explosion of anger, across the USA. The looting and violence cannot be condoned, but I can certainly understand it – peaceful protests are met with derision, and have achieved little to change the on-going narrative of different approaches from police, depending on a person’s skin colour. What happened to George Floyd was not an isolated incident – it’s part of a systemic failure to tackle institutionalised racism, and until that problem is tackled, angry responses are going to continue.