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< Back to question How do we think about the George Floyd murder? Show more Show less

On May 25 2020, George Floyd was suffocated to death by the police. Floyd had been arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 bill. In chilling footage that would go viral within 24 hours, officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than 8 minutes ignoring Floyd's repeated pleas for him to move. The asphyxiation led to his cardiac arrest. Floyd's death has so far inspired protests across more than 75 US cities, calling for an end to police brutality and institutional racism. The responses to these riots have included state-wide curfews, the threat of military intervention, attacks on the media and civilian arrests. The situation has given rise to a complex debate with commentators arguing over what precisely it has exposed about contemporary America. So, who are these groups, what do they stand for, and why?

Leaders create nations: the murder exposes the ongoing American political crisis Show more Show less

This approach believes that political machinations are responsible for civil unrest and social stability. In this case, the response from political leadership has allowed the murder to grow into a national catastrophe.
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An absence of leadership has led the US into chaos

There has not been poor decision making from above. Because there has not been any decision making from above. President Trump’s White House blackout and decision to ignore the escalating national crisis as it began, gave the riots space to flourish. As the Washington Post reported: “Trump and some of his advisers calculated that he should not speak to the nation because he had nothing new to say and had no tangible policy or action to announce yet, according to a senior administration official.” Proponents of this view include Fox News journalist Tucker Carlson and The Atlantic writer David A. Graham.
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The Argument

The horrific death of George Floyd was caused by the lack of leadership in America. As the public was forced to come to terms with the presence of systemic racism in the United States after the video of Floyd’s death was released, they were also forced to reckon with the absence of leadership that had allowed this systemic racism to continue. American leadership’s inability to address the serious issue of structural inequality at both the local and federal levels has been clear for years. Data has been collected displaying troubling facts such as 54% of deaths related to police violence in 2019 were people of color whereas in 2014 it was just 50% [1]. Beyond police violence, the general standard of living for black Americans is worse than that of white americans. The average lifespan of a black man is 71.9 years while an average white man’s is 76.4 [2]. These inequalities have reached every aspect of life and yet American leadership has done nothing to fix these structural injustices. The growing tensions caused by the absence of a president willing to reckon with the issues of inequality that so blatantly face everyday American citizens has reached a tragic climax with the death of George Floyd.

Counter arguments

Many supporters of Trump's Presidency would argue that the President's public condemnation of racism is testament to his work towards ending racial inequality in America. After the El Paso shooting, the President made a speech denouncing racist attitudes and stating that "In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy."[3] Many of his supporters would argue that setting a clear example and denouncing racism is enough to end inequalities in current society.


Rejecting the premises



This page was last edited on Monday, 21 Sep 2020 at 12:16 UTC

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