The world, Indo Caribbeans and other Caribbean people included, was appalled by the way Black American George Floyd died last May during a routine arrest for an allegation that he used a counterfeit $20 bill to purchase goods from a store. After restraining him for the arrest, a White police officer placed his knee on Floyd’s neck denying him access to air, suffocating and killing him.
As a Guyanese and an Indian and an immigrant in USA, I was horrified and shocked at the police action. Moreover, I was saddened at the killing. The incident was gut wrenching resulting in widespread condemnation of his action and of police dealing with non-White people. There was righteous condemnation of the police action and indignant rage. There was also violence, looting and robberies. Minorities suffered the most following the death of Floyd.
Around the world, compassion and empathy were displayed for Floyd as video recording on a cell phone showed repeatedly on TV of Derek Chauvin’s uncaring action resting his knee on Floyd’s neck until he passed out.
The officer displayed a lack of respect for the life of that Black man, was charged, prosecuted, and convicted. He was held accountable for his actions by a jury of his peers. This is unprecedented in most parts of America as police officers are hardly brought to justice for their actions injuring or killing people.
The conviction has resonated well among Guyanese and Caribbean people, among all communities, across America. The trial was fair and due process was served. It has revived calls for a reckoning on racial inequality in America and the justice system. Not only Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, and other minorities have also suffered at the hands of racist cops.
Around the world, compassion and empathy were displayed for Floyd as video recording on a cell phone showed repeatedly on TV of Chauvin’s uncaring action resting his knee on Floyd’s neck until he passed out.
The conviction of Chauvin sends a strong message across America that police would be held accountable for their action, and that they can and will be prosecuted. The verdict also highlight the need for reforms in the way police carry out their work.
While drawing attention to long ignored police abuse of minorities, the entire episode helps people to re-examine how they see people of other ethnicities. All hate crimes and violence are wrong. In America, there are not only White racists but racists are found in all communities. People of all races have attacked Indians and other Asians in America. Indo-Guyanese, considered as Asians, have also been targets of attacks. Indians and other Asians face racism that goes unseen, despite their being considered as a model minority community on account of their success and achievements in America – especially in dominating medical, science, engineering, and technical fields.
Indo-Guyanese and other Asians live in proximity to Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, and other people. Since coming to America over the last fifty years, they have helped to grow run down neighborhoods, like the South Bronx, Jamaica, Richmond Hill, etc., into vibrant multi-ethnic communities. They should not be targeted or picked upon by people of other ethnicities.
Justice was served in the Floyd’s case. Police, like all citizens, must respect the rule of law. But policy must also change. The Floyd case should also galvanize people into action to demand justice for crimes in their country or communities irrespective of where they live. There is need for example for justice for Haresh Singh; no arrest was made for his murder by police some thirteen months ago.
The Floyd incident highlights the need for Guyanese Americans, Indians, Africans, and others, to work together with other groups to confront racism. The conviction can be the initiative for a change in ethnic relations, in how members of one group view others. Also, although there is a conviction, racism will not easily end in America. A lot needs to be done to combat racism and everyone must do their part to combat hate and ethnically inspired robberies against Asians.