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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 state is threatening individual freedom

As far-right extremists the Big Igloo Bois wrote on their Facebook page to rally a citizen’s militia to the riots: “This is not a race issue. For far too long we have allowed them to murder us in our homes, and in the streets.” The group were referring to the police and law enforcement, pointing to the violent subjugation of citizens by state.

The Argument

Before the killing of George Floyd on May 25th, 2020, 26-year old Breonna Taylor was murdered inside her own home. Police officers killed Breonna Taylor in her Louisville, Kentucky home while she slept in her bed.[1] Viewed as an act of racism and police brutality, these murders expose another issue: the state is threatening individual freedom. If the police officers who shot and killed Breonna Taylor face no justice, it serves as a stark reminder that police brutality comes at the cost of individual liberty and security. These killings in 2020 highlighted systematic racism, as well as the threat to freedom for all American citizens as well. Acts of police brutality put citizens in a state of fear, feeling threatened by those in a position of power. The powerful often abuse their power, such as the officers who killed Floyd and Taylor, and use fear in the aftermath to quell protests. If peaceful protestors are victims of police brutality such as rubber bullets and pepper spray, the right to freedom of speech is taken away.[2] The state is a threat to individual liberty and goes against everything America is supposed to stand for.

Counter arguments

To say that the killing of black Americans is a threat to individual freedom takes away from the issue of racism in the United States. Blacks are more likely to be treated poorly by police officers. Statistics show that black adults are five times as likely to be stopped by police officers in an unfair situation, compared to white adults. The violence against people of color in America does not mean that the police are threats to everyone's liberty. These acts of police brutality are results of systematic racism, but not necessarily a case to abolish the police from society. White people are known to have much more positive experiences with police officers and often admit that blacks are discriminated against by the law. By saying that the state is a threat to the freedom of all citizens, regardless of color, makes the issue of racism in America seem much smaller than it really is. [3]

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/article/breonna-taylor-police.html
  2. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-52932611
  3. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/06/03/10-things-we-know-about-race-and-policing-in-the-u-s/

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This page was last edited on Friday, 25 Sep 2020 at 12:33 UTC

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