BY MIX’ALH ADAMS
Los Alamos High School
Editor’s note: The following commentary was read by the author during Saturday’s Demonstration for an End To Racial Violence at Ashley Pond Park.
The United States is currently in the midst of a civil war. A civil war that has been ongoing for hundreds of years, and which we risk continuing for hundreds of years more. A war that has been so bloody, so violent, that just one of the major battles of that war led to the deaths of 618,000 men in the costliest war in American history. Another major battle of that war led to the deaths of countless freedmen and their descendents at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan and other groups. This war has involved many combatants, changing from battle to battle, the Union against the Confederates, the NAACP, Black Panthers, and black Muslims against southern politicians, the Klu Klux Klan, and the police, the American Indian Movement against the United States government, the Suffragettes against conservative politicians, the Labour Movement and progressive politicians against ultra-powerful businessmen, goon squads, and the police. These are all examples of the ever-changing battlefield of this war. The goals have changed, the circumstances have changed, even the combatants have changed during the course of this war, but there is one constant: those that have power which is built on the backs of the oppressed, and those who are oppressed by those very same people who depend on them.
Now, we are met on another great battlefield of this war, one based around not just the circumstances of this battle alone, but largely of the previous ones. A battle with a cost; social unrest has led to an attempted coup, racially motivated shootings, police violence against protestors, and less impressively, mass property damage. It is also a battle that is turning in our favour. Derek Chauvin’s conviction marks the second time a police officer has been found guilty of murder in Mineappolis, and the first time a white officer was found guilty of the murder of a black man in Mineappolis. Here, in Los Alamos, the police force has had de-escalation and racial bias training for years, and just recently, the council has created a racial equity and inclusivity task force. But, we cannot celebrate, we cannot claim that justice has been served, we cannot look at the recent wins and feel content at our taking of the bridgehead, because the enemy is still present, and a counter-attack is imminent. Whilst we’ve won this bridge, other areas of the battle are still raging violently, whilst we fought to secure this bridgehead, our lines were breached in another area of the battlefield, the racially and sexually-motivated shooting of a spa in Atlanta, the killing of Dante Wright only miles away from where George Floyd was murdered, the killing of a thirteen-year-old Latino boy, Adam Toledo, all sparked public outrage and even more circumstances such as these have gone by unnoticed.
On Monday evening, shortly after 8:00 pm, officers from the Minneapolis Police Department responded to the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South on a report of a forgery in progress. Officers were advised that the suspect was sitting on top of a blue car and appeared to be under the influence.
Two officers arrived and located the suspect, a male believed to be in his 40s, in his car. He was ordered to step from his car. After he got out, he physically resisted officers. Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress. Officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Centre by ambulance where he died a short time later.
At no time were there any weapons of any type used by anyone involved in this incident.
That was the Minneapolis Police Department’s original statement upon the death of George Floyd, and I’m sure if you were to read other police statements, especially those of a large city, you could find countless other reports that sound just like that; and the thing is, if that story is twisted like it was here, there’s no evidence with which to convict the officer. Also, the people who are killed by police are usually poor, and as a result, their families often don’t have anywhere near enough money to get a lawyer, even if the evidence is overwhelming. In the end, Derek Chauvin was convicted, not because what he did was wrong, but because George Floyd’s death became circumstantial enough, and the pressure to convict Chauvin big enough, that what probably would never have happened otherwise happened. And, though many other people will die in a similar way to George Floyd, or in a similar way to Dante Wright or Adam Toledo, George Floyd’s death was the one that was on camera. It’s the one that caused massive public outrage. It’s the one that started the movement towards a kind of change that would never have happened if it wasn’t the one in a hundred of unjust killings by police that started massive protests, and the one in several thousand that started worldwide change.
In the end, this tunnel of the civil war that we’re in, has no end in sight. But, this battle’s end is in sight. America will continue to have problems for probably until its end; but our victory in this battle will not only set in motion the momentum to win other battles; but it will stop the murders of innocent men like George Floyd, Dante Wright, Eric Garner, and boys like Adam Toledo. This battle has a chance to change a lot of things for the better. So, I urge you to not waver. To carry it out until its completion so we can see a better world.