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How do we think about the George Floyd murder? Show more Show less
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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?

Our freedom is at stake: the murder exposes a crisis of civil liberties Show more Show less

This approach believes that this crisis hinges on the relationship between the state and the individual. It focuses on police brutality and state-sanctioned violence against innocent citizens.
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The George Floyd crisis exposes deep institutional racism

George Floyd has become a powerful symbol for the racial injustice faced by non-whites in the US and beyond. Protestors are now railing against decades of deprivation faced by minority communities and propped up by the machinery of the state. In the US, blacks are significantly more likely to be imprisoned, murdered by police and arrested for minor crimes.

The Argument

The killing of black Americans has brought outrage to the surface following the death of George Floyd, an African American man who was murdered by a police officer. Unfortunately, the murder of George Floyd is not a one-time occurrence when it comes to violence against black communities in America. The killing of George Floyd occurred soon after the unjust killing of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year old EMT worker shot to death in her bed, and Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year old killed while jogging. These events are considered the central turning point in the fight against institutionalized racism that is still deeply rooted in America. The protests and riots that sparked all over the country after the killing of George Floyd are a direct result of institutionalized racism. The protests started a revolution by exposing racism in all aspects of American life, not just the police force. This movement addresses employment, health care, education, and housing as well.[1] The death of George Floyd took place during a global pandemic, also bringing attention to that fact that a majority of those who died from COVID-19 were black Americans, dying at twice the rate of white Americans.[2] If better health care and housing policies existed for every American, not just for white people, many aspects of life would improve for all citizens. The exposure of these issues in the aftermath of Floyd's murder begins to address long-existing disparities in society. His death was the spark that started it all.

Counter arguments

George Floyd's death is a singular act of violence that does not represent institutionalized racism. The killing of George Floyd was a murder and a representation of a single police officer's abuse of power. Though Derek Chauvin, the police officer who killed George Floyd, may be racist against black people, he does not accurately represent the police force as a whole. To say all police officers are racist is false, with most police officers approaching situations and arrests correctly, without inciting violence due to personal views against people of color. Derek Chauvin was fired from the Minneapolis Police Department the day after George Floyd's murder and later charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. Though the use of knee-to-neck restraints was allowed in certain circumstances in Minnesota, Chauvin's use of this technique was highly criticized and seen as excessive by experts of law enforcement. The other three police officers involved in the death of George Floyd were also fired the same day as Chauvin. [3] These firings demonstrate the consequences of their behavior and that these officers are simply a few bad apples in this police department. Justice is forthcoming, and the degree of protests occurring are exaggerating the scale of institutionalized police racism. Some police officers are racist, but the vast majority are not.

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Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://www.urban.org/features/structural-racism-america
  2. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-racism-not-race-is-a-risk-factor-for-dying-of-covid-191/
  3. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-52969205

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This page was last edited on Wednesday, 23 Sep 2020 at 11:23 UTC

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