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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?

The murder is simply a murder: It is not representative of wider issues Show more Show less

This approach believes that an isolated murder cannot be used to make broader points about America, its society, and politics.
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George Floyd's murder does not represent black innocence

George Floyd had a history of criminal offences and had been to prison numerous times. Whilst he did not deserve to die in the way that he did, he should not be turned into a martyr for injustices suffered by innocent black people as he himself was by no means innocent.
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The Argument

It cannot be refuted that there is a deep and systemic issue of racial discrimination in America. However, whilst George Floyd’s murder was unjust, it should not be held up as an example of injustice against black innocence. Candace Owens posted a video to her Facebook and details the fact that George Floyd had a history of prison sentences and was under the influence of illegal drugs at the time of his arrest. [1] George Floyd should not been viewed as a martyr for the black community in America as there are others who suffered unjust fates and were upstanding citizens. Look to cases such as those of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. Arbery was jogging when he, unarmed, was pursued by three white men in a racially motivated attack. If the discussion is around black innocence then Arbery’s case fits the bill moreso than that of Floyd. Breonna Taylor, a medical worker, was also unjustly killed and in her case it was at the hands of three police officers who were not indicted for her killing. When making a case for the jeopardy of black innocence in America, George Floyd is hardly the poster boy. However, the deaths of people such as Arbery and Taylor illustrate the injustice suffered by African Americans in the United States.

Counter arguments

Whilst George Floyd may not be the martyr he is indirectly portrayed as in various media outlets, to say that his murder is not symptomatic of wider issues is nonsensical. The police officers who arrested him were wrong for the methods they employed and were charged as such. Moreover, this instance of police brutality is not an anomaly. There are cases of police brutality right across America and George Floyd’s murder was the tipping point. Although Floyd is was not a model citizen, there are those who have suffered at the hands of the police who were not criminals. Breonna Taylor was a law-abiding citizen who was killed by officers who did not follow protocol. Yes people make mistakes in various walks of life and in various fields of work, but when your mistakes result in the death of innocent people there should be a higher standard and tougher consequences. George Floyd himself should not be immortalised as a beacon for the black community but the circumstances surrounding his murder need to be addressed if America ever hopes to rectify the racism steeped in its society.


Rejecting the premises



This page was last edited on Monday, 28 Sep 2020 at 11:56 UTC

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