After nationwide rage, what comes next?By Cash Michaels, Peacemaker Senior Contributor / June 5, 2020
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What comes next, days after a nationwide rage in the streets over the Memorial Day Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, 46?
From coast to coast, in all fifty states, including here in North Carolina in Greensboro, Fayetteville, Raleigh and Charlotte, diverse groups of angry youth filled the streets after hours of peaceful protests in memory of Floyd, who was slain when four Minneapolis police officers in Minnesota arrested him for allegedly passing a forged $20 bill at a store, handcuffed him, and then further subdued the Black man by placing him face down in the street, with one officer’s knee in Floyd’s neck for approximately eight minutes.
Floyd Memorial Service
The family of George Floyd will remember him in North Carolina. A memorial service is planned for Saturday, June 6, Cape Fear Conference B Headquarters, 10225 Fayetteville Road in Raeford.
A public viewing will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., followed by a private, family-only service.
Video of the incident – with the helpless Floyd crying out that he couldn’t breathe, and asking for his mother, went viral, causing a national chain reaction of street rage with uprisings first there in Minneapolis, then spreading to other major urban centers like New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, in addition to major cities in North and South Carolina.
Ironically, Durham, Rocky Mount and Wilmington had peaceful demonstrations in memoriam to George Floyd.
In the aftermath of the devastating uprisings across North Carolina over the weekend, leaders spoke out, urging all angered by the killing of George Floyd, to respect his memory, and for an end to police violence against Black people.
“My people,” admonished Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, president of the N.C. NAACP. “It is imperative that you see the hand of White supremacy capitalizing on George Floyd’s painful death to ignite your anger and lure you into more riotous conduct and loss of life. Turn your pain into gain. Don’t get baited and berated.”
Spearman was alluding to reports of many White supremacists coming in from out-of-state, in several instances, going with demonstrators, and ignited the violence and looting, fueling racial tension.
After Charlotte and Mecklenburg County were placed under a state of emergency for the second time in four years last weekend, Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC-12) said, “The reason we are here is because of modern-day lynchings – the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, and others – and the failure of individuals within police departments across the country to value Black lives.”
Congresswoman Adams added, “In this moment, we must be the spark that ignites justice, but we cannot light a fire so hot that it consumes us as well.”
Irv Joyner, professor of law at North Carolina Central University in Durham, and chairman of the N.C. NAACP Legal Redress Committee, lamented that another Black life had been taken at the hands of law enforcement.
“George Floyd did not get the benefit of that respect of his humanity,” Prof. Joyner said in a statement. “Even if he intently attempted to pass counterfeit money, he did not commit an offense worthy of the death penalty. The law simply does not allow police officers to determine that a person is guilty of a crime and then to execute him or her. The law does not give them that authority and power; when officers abuse the limited authority which they possess, they should be held accountable. In the past, this accountability has not occurred.”
Rev. Dr. William Barber, co-convener of the Poor People’s Campaign, and president of Repairers of the Breach, issued “A Pastoral Letter to the Nation,” Sunday, saying in part, “Protesters are right to decry such brutal and inhumane treatment as racism.
“Thank God people are in the streets, refusing to accept what has been seen as normal for far too long,” Barber said. “What a shame it would be if this nation could watch a policeman murder another human being, then pose like a hunter with his prey while his colleagues looked on, and there not be protest, anguish, anger, outrage and moral disruption.”
Black police chiefs and sheriffs across North Carolina have condemned the killing of George Floyd, as have many elected officials.
The Minneapolis police officer who allegedly killed George Floyd has been fired, along with three other officers on the scene who stood and did nothing. The officer has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, a former congressman, has taken over the prosecution.
During a press conference on Sunday, Gov. Roy Cooper said he spoke to the sister of George Floyd, who lives in Hoke County (Raeford, N.C.).
George Floyd was born in Fayetteville, N.C. in 1974 prior to his family moving to Houston, Tx., where he grew up. Floyd also has an uncle who resides in Raleigh, N.C.
“While I cannot bring her brother back, I can work for justice in his name. I assured her that’s what we would do,” the governor said Sunday, adding that he would be sending 450 members of the National Guard into Raleigh, Greensboro, Fayetteville and Charlotte to maintain peace, and enforce curfews.
“People are more important than property. … Black lives do matter,” he said.
Cash Michaels is a journalist and editor covering state news for the Carolina Peacemaker. He is based in Cary, N.C.