Today marks the two-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. However, there has been little movement on police reform since the horrific tragedy. Police still kill Black people at higher rates than other groups and corporations that once proclaimed that Black Lives Matter continues to bolster and fundraise for political candidates who spew racist propaganda.
Since George Floyd’s murder, Black Americans and other minority groups have grown more fearful of police brutality while legislators have only made empty, symbolic gestures to address this deep-rooted issue. A Washington Post poll found that although there was an increased focus on police reform directly after Floyd’s murder, 41 percent of Black Americans feel like nothing has changed.
There is no denying that racism is embedded into our founding institutions and pervasive throughout our society. Racism can no longer be an American value. After many failed attempts in Congress to enshrine a system of accountability, President Biden signed an executive order that will “increase accountability, ban chokeholds, restrict no-knock entries, and more for federal law enforcement officers”. President Biden also called for local officers to integrate his framework. While this action is an important step forward, it is not a permanent solution and doesn’t address issues within local police forces. Congress needs to step up because the stakes couldn’t be higher.
When interacting with law enforcement, Black Americans are too frequently presumed guilty and never get a chance to prove their innocence because a police officer could be their judge, jury, and executioner at a traffic stop. In contrast, self-declared white supremacists are given the benefit of the doubt despite perpetrating unimaginable and horrific crimes. Just last week, a racist domestic terrorist slaughtered 10 people at a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo. Prior to the shooting, he actually published his plans to kill Black people in a 180-page manifesto.
The suspect of this massacre was met with a civilized escalation of force and will be afforded the “luxury” of due process. George Floyd, however, lost his life over a counterfeit $20 bill. No one should be at risk of losing their life to the people who are sworn to protect them.
The Washington Post poll also shows that three-quarters of Black Americans worry that they or a loved one will be attacked because of their race, with just 8 percent reporting they are “surprised” by racist attacks. What’s more, 70 percent of Black Americans believe that at least half of white Americans hold white supremacist beliefs, and 66 percent see white supremacy as a bigger problem today than it was five years ago. If you are Black in America, safety is an unfamiliar concept.
As we remember George Floyd, we must also think of his children, who meant so much to him. They must not continue to grow up in a society that enables racism and dismisses murderous behavior. NOW members are working hard to dismantle structurally racist and inequitable systems at every level of our society and every street corner in neighborhoods like the one where George Floyd was murdered two years ago.
As NOW honors his life, many states, cities, and communities across the nation will mark this solemn occasion with tributes, events, and gatherings as part of a Day of Remembrance for George Floyd. NOW members will be participating in these observances as part of our commitment to an antiracist, intersectional feminist agenda -a commitment that is more urgent and essential than ever before.
The National Organization for Women (NOW) is the nation’s leading membership-based advocacy group dedicated to defending women’s rights, advancing equality and combating injustice in all aspects of social, political and economic life. Through educating, mobilizing, and convening a vast network of grassroots activists across the country, NOW advocates for national, state and local policies that promote an anti-racist and intersectional feminist agenda. Since its founding in 1966, NOW has been on the frontlines of nearly every major advancement for women’s rights and continues to champion progressive values today. More about NOW’s efforts and resources is available at NOW.org.