In a story that is all too familiar, George Floyd lost his life at the hands of the police, one year ago today. His crime, as the congressman Al Green opined, being born Black. As such, he was considered a threat, someone to be subdued. He was denied respect and dignity.
Racism obscures that which unites us. This led the police officers, sent to confront George Floyd on this day last year, to ignore his call and pleas for help.
Shocked by the brutal circumstances of George Floyd’s murder, and tired of being subject to similar instances of racism and discrimination, many took to the streets around the world. They chanted 3 simple words: Black Lives Matter.
Sadly, both in the USA and in the UK, Black lives have often been devalued, evidenced by their disproportionate deaths at the hands of both the police and COVID-19.
In the months which followed, many businesses and organisations worldwide have undergone a level of introspection, not only showing a willingness to learn about racism and racial injustice but pledging to improve racial diversity.
In a seminal moment the officer who held his knee on George Floyd's neck for over 9 minutes – Derek Chauvin – was put on trial. The eyes of the world were on the United States.
In a trial that lasted 3 weeks, Derek Chauvin was convicted of the murder and manslaughter of George Floyd. It is hoped that this conviction will lead to greater accountability as it relates to the police and the treatment of black people in wider society.
President Biden welcomed the verdict as the start of a conversation on systemic racism, not the end.
The three other officers involved in the incident are yet to go on trial.
While we welcome Derek Chauvin’s conviction, it can never bring back a father, a son, a brother and a partner. George Floyd was a friend, a ‘gentle giant’, a rapper and an aspiring athlete. Today, we pay tribute to him, and to his family.
It is important to remember that George Floyd will never know the impact his death had on us all. He was not a martyr for the struggle for racial justice - George Floyd just wanted to buy some cigarettes.
As we collectively mourn his death a year later, we should not to lose sight of the person he was. Of course his life mattered, it still continues to today.
Rest in eternal power, George. You will never be forgotten.
Image by Chad Davis via Flickr