From a 14-year-old George Stinney’s flawed state execution in 1944 to George Floyd’s murder by policing, has much changed?
On May 25, George Floyd, an African-American man became the latest victim of the raging racism that has been flaring under the Republican regime of Donald Trump. He was arrested and accosted on the basis of an alleged forgery, after which he was pinned to the ground by the neck, held immobile by the knee of officer Derek Chauvin, for approximately seven minutes. In the video that subsequently went viral, George can be seen repeatedly requesting the officer to get off him for he cannot breathe, to no avail.
George Floyd died. He did not get the chance to plead his case. The judgement was already passed due to his race.
George Floyd is not an isolated case. But this is surely the one which has caused everyone to look up and look within, especially the ones with privilege. The racism against native Americans, African-Americans, Americans of different origins and ethnicities has been systemic since the colonial era, wherein the white Americans sanctioned all the rights and social capital to themselves. This should have seen the finish line a long time ago. Sadly, it did not. Society evolved and with it racism too. The white supremacists’ lust for power increased multifold and the hatred for other minorities did not die down. The hunger for cultural and racial supremacy and the want for declaring other citizens secondary only flourished.
It led to some of the most dastardly practices of all time, such as internment camps, separate educational institutions, biased working laws, so and so forth. This further led to the creation of a suppressed particular race. They were denied social capital, basic respect, education, voting rights, and much more. It led to revolutions and retributions.
So, while we do not know yet know whether George Floyd was indeed committing forgery, we cannot deal it in isolation with racial discrimination he and countless other blacks face on a daily basis in the USA.
Watch: George Floyd’s death a reminder of systemic racism in America
Wounds from the past
Look into yourself and you will find a tiny voice of conscience answering this question. The consequences, had George Floyd been a white person, would have been quite different. For starters, he would have been alive. Again, racism plays its part here. It is not just the actions of a person that need to be judged, it is also the subsequent reaction of the state too.
Not many may know about George Stinney, a 14-year-old black boy who was accused of murdering two white girls, aged 7 and 11. He was given the electric chair treatment on June 16, 1944. The conviction was based solely upon the confession which was mostly coerced out of him in custody. He was detained and questioned without his guardians and with no legal aid.
What’s worse? In the year 2014, a fresh investigation proved that George Stinney was innocent.
Watch: 70 years after George Stinney’s executive, his family seeks justice
A 14-year-old boy was convicted of a crime he had not committed, denied the basic right, and ultimately executed without a specter of knowledge about the preconceived bias at play.
From 1944 to 2020, what has changed?
Derek Chauvin, the police officer who kneeled down and pinned George Floyd to death paid no heed to his pleas. He is a two-decade veteran at policing but with a record that tells a lot about how he handled the situation. Chauvin has had 18 official complaints against him on record, out of which two ended up in hearings. Despite so many strikes, the officer failed to police in an ethical way, quite frankly concluding his actions right based on his profiling of the target. George Floyd would have been alive if lessons were taken from George Stinney’s execution.