Our nation was rocked by the image of a white police officer pressing his knee onto the neck of a black man for more than eight minutes. George Floyd could be heard gasping for breath and moaning “I can’t breathe,” but Officer Derek Chauvin refused to back off. Bystanders appealed for Chauvin to release his victim, but he ignored them. The resulting death plunged the USA into chaos as protesters by the thousands took to the streets of nearly every city, and in some places windows were smashed, stores looted and buildings torched. Police, protesters, and bystanders alike were injured and a few killed.
Most Americans were appalled by this tragic death, and sobered by the undeniable evidence of police brutality. It’s now impossible to pretend it doesn’t happen. Sadly, this was not a mere aberration, but the latest example of a pattern of abuse that spans decades. Many black Americans have genuine reason to fear unequal treatment at the hands of the police. Serious reform is overdue.
Do black lives matter? Yes they do! We need to acknowledge that long standing racial prejudice continues to erode the American promise of equality. Too many white Americans seem oblivious to the unequal treatment that blacks experience on a regular basis. One nation under God? In theory yes, but often it looks more like two different nations occupying the same territory, one white, one black.