The-UNC-Chapel Hill History Department Working Group on Equity and Inclusion has written the following Statement Concerning the 2020 Murder of Mr. George Floyd and the 2021 Trial of His Killer. Sign the statement here.
Below is the statement in full:
The image of a hunter with his knee on the neck of his prey will long be in the memory of millions around the world. The hunter, a police officer, however, was not snuffing the life out of a deer he had just shot, but rather slowly killing George Floyd as Mr. Floyd politely said, “Officer, I can’t breathe.”
Unlike those in Simi Valley who heard the arguments in defense of policemen who beat Rodney King, we will not accept being told that we did not see what we saw in a video of the assault.
A Black man without any gun – man, as in human being – was killed by a police officer who could have taken George Floyd into custody alive but chose instead to treat Mr. Floyd as an animal.
We strongly and unequivocally condemn the killing of George Floyd.
We do not seek that the officer be treated as an animal. We know the difference between human beings and animals, no matter how reprehensible a person’s actions might be.
We Demand Justice.
The immunity and the excuses available to police officers have resulted in very few convictions. In rare cases, if an officer of color kills a white person he has been convicted and given prison time.
Multiple generations of people of every race and color with eyes to see and the humanity to count all members of the human race worthy of drawing breath and living un-oppressed on the earth saw that George Floyd was neither an animal, 3/5ths of a man, nor a man using deadly force against his killer.
The policeman has an attorney to plead his case in a court with 12 impartial jurors and two alternates. Whatever defense is mounted three facts are indisputable. First, George Floyd was alive on the ground having been restrained by a policeman. Second, that policeman pressed his knee on the neck of George Floyd for more than 9 minutes until he died a painful death calling for his mother. Third, George Floyd was murdered by this officer; and his fellow officers did nothing to take George Floyd into custody alive.
By law there are supposed to be consequences for killing another human being who is defenseless.
We demand a fair trial during which all of the evidence will be presented.
There is video evidence that cannot be ignored; it shows –surrounded by eye witnesses – the policeman on trial killing George Floyd.
There cannot be in this trial any denial of one indisputable fact: George Floyd is dead because the policeman on trial killed Mr. Floyd.
Once again – as in repeatedly over centuries – a policeman treated a Black life as if it did not matter.
With multitudes of persons who know Black people are human beings, not animals, and
with many of every race and color who know that in the United States there is a history of those in power and American law not only failing to abolish systemic racism, violence and terror against people of color – Indigenous people, Latinx persons and persons of Asian and African descent – but also in particular failing to hold accountable and punish law enforcement officers who kill defenseless Blacks,
We demand a conviction for the killing of George Floyd. It is unacceptable that there be no consequences under the rule of law in this nation for this policeman’s murder of George Floyd, a fellow human being.
We Demand Justice.
UNC-Chapel Hill History Department Working Group on Equity and Inclusion
Genna Rae McNeil
Malinda Maynor Lowery
Miguel La Serna