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Justice is more than an arrest

Eight minutes.

For eight minutes, Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck as Floyd lay handcuffed, face down on the pavement.

For eight minutes, bystanders begged Chauvin to move, saying Floyd couldn’t breathe and wasn’t resisting.

For five minutes, Officers Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao watched as George Floyd strained to cry, “I can’t breathe!”

After five minutes, Floyd appeared unconscious. Chauvin didn’t remove his knee from Floyd’s neck until EMS moved him into the ambulance.

Floyd was declared dead at the hospital less than two hours after the first call to police.

Police were called because an employee suspected Floyd of using a counterfeit $20 bill. When police arrived on the scene, he was handcuffed and detained. The next minutes of video are of him suffocating with a knee to his throat.

There were eight minutes to save a man’s life, and the three other officers on the scene did nothing and watched as their fellow officer committed murder and ended an innocent man’s life.

These saddening and disgusting moments remind me of the privilege I have in my hands. The color of my skin will not get me killed. The color of my skin doesn’t make me scared to be arrested. The color of my skin doesn’t make me wonder if I’ll come home at night.

Those of us privileged enough to feel safe in our skin must not stand for these injustices. There is no defense for this act. There was no mistake. There was no weapon in Floyd’s hands. This was murder.

There are protests taking place across the nation because this isn’t the first time this has happened, and, without change, this won’t be the last either.

As these protests continue, we will hear Black Lives Matter competing with All Lives Matter. But Black Lives Matter does not mean that other lives do not. It doesn’t mean that my life isn’t important, but my life is not in danger when I am pulled over and reach for my wallet.

Black Lives Matter is a rallying, saddened plea that Black Lives Matter just as much as everyone else’s.

Black Lives Matter should remind us that while protests about reopening Michigan went on as protesters armed with assault rifles stormed the capital, nothing happened.

Black Lives Matter should remind us that when peaceful protesters took to the street protesting the murder of an innocent black man, these protesters were sprayed with tear gas and rubber bullets before any riots began.

Black Lives Matter should remind us that if you’re more upset about the riots than the innocent men and women being murdered, you’re part of the problem.

Black Lives Matter is the cry of mothers losing their sons in the streets when they have Skittles in their pockets. Black Lives Matter is the cry of loved ones watching their family go on a run and never coming back.

Black Lives Matter does not mean that other deaths cannot be unjust or saddening or disgusting, but it is to shout from the rooftops that police brutality disproportionately affects black men in the United States.

Black Lives Matter reminds us that we shouldn’t need reminding that racism is still alive and well.

This is one of the many cries for reform this week. This is a call for those in power to recognize the need for change and to act on it.

This is a call for those who consider themselves allies to these communities to brave the messy and inconsiderate system and fix it with our privilege. When we see injustice, we should attack it from every angle and build up the communities our privilege has harmed.

We weren’t the ones that built the broken system, but we have to be the ones to wade in and fix it.

Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. The arrest is a small step in the right direction. It is not the end. One arrest in a sea of problems won’t end the hostility the communities feel against them or the pain of another brother, father, mother or sister gone.

So I add my voice, my privileged voice, to the many crying out and ask for reform. I add my voice and grieve for a life lost.

As George Floyd’s name joins the many others on a too-long list of innocents murdered, I refuse to believe this is a necessity in our country. I refuse to believe nothing can be done to save children and men that die for nothing more than being born with skin darker than my own.

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