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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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The crisis has grown out of protracted political failures

The current crisis and the structural inequality it represents are the direct results of historical political failures. Early civil rights activists called for socio-economic inclusion and were ignored. The result is the growth of a deeply segregated state, where law enforcement protects the white and the wealthy from minorities.
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The Argument

Dr. Elizabeth Hinton argues that there has been little effort to deal with the fallout from racial segregation since the 1960s. Issues such as unemployment, poor housing, poverty, and poor schooling have all led to a low level of general social unrest. This public discontent recently exploded on a large scale.[1] The use of police crackdowns and military force instead of sweeping social reforms demonstrates the opposition to institutional change. Attempts at funding grassroots programs to deal with economic inequality have been promptly shut-down or defunded since the late 1960s. Particularly under the Johnson, Nixon, and Reagan administrations, government legislation has focused on stamping out crime rather than tackling the root causes of inequality.[2] Many sociologists have highlighted the social and economic factors that may have provoked looting during the riots.[3] After George Floyd's murder, it galvanized the disaffected masses to action. The root cause of the wave of violence spreading across America is present in protestors' demands for police reform. Many have voiced their opinion that these long-standing social issues have gone unaddressed for far too long.[2]

Counter arguments

Political radicals are causing the current crisis, and it has nothing to do with racial inequality. Left-leaning radicals have hijacked what would have been peaceful protests and caused violence and chaos. The rioters are not truly interested in racial politics but are using one event as an excuse to loot and destroy neighborhoods.[4] The majority of protestors want to spotlight the racist attitudes of some police officers and departments. Their concerns are not with economic policies. Militant communists have been using Black Lives Matter to promote anti-capitalist ideas, which have nothing to do with the protests. Their real concern is not racial inequality, but the redistribution of land and the abolition of private property.[5]


[P1] Racial inequality has been a problem in the US for its entire history, events like the George Floyd murder have a long precedence. [P2] Reforms to tackle poverty and inequality have been insufficient and many have been dismantled. [P3] Harsh policing and military force has been used in excess against the black community, leading to long-standing racial tensions. [P4] The scale of the unrest is a reaction to these long-standing issues. [C] The unrest following the George Floyd murder was caused by the historic failure of politicians to deal appropriately with the fallout from racial segregation.

Rejecting the premises

[P4] Issues of racial inequality are just a cover used by rioters from militant left-wing organizations who wish to attack the state.



This page was last edited on Friday, 11 Sep 2020 at 06:42 UTC

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