We are halfway through 2020 and what a journey. Firstly, we experienced the loss of iconic figures in the most tragic of circumstances. Secondly, isolated ourselves from loved ones because of a virus that has taken so many innocent lives. Finally, we witnessed the recent murder of an unarmed Black man to the hands of Minnesota police officers, proving racism still thrives in trusted organizations.
The footage of 46-year-old George Floyd restrained by Minneapolis Police Officer, Derek Chauvin, has shocked the world. With Chauvin’s knee wedged upon Floyd’s neck for several minutes, Floyd says that he is unable to breathe. Taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, George Floyd died as a result of Derek Chauvin’s actions. This sparked nationwide protests and even looting, leaving shops empty. Furthermore, the unrest turned to torching vehicles belonging to the police with many protesters arrested.
Although currently happening in America, the horrific reality of the scale of racism and police brutality worldwide is concerning. Mirroring scenes from America, protesters in the UK took to the streets of London and Manchester to campaign against the injustice. These included families of loved ones who have lost their lives to police brutality.
Police Brutality In The UK
In 2011, the death of Mark Duggan sparked outrage across England as a result of unlawful killing at the hands of the Metropolitan police. Consequently, the following days and nights were some of the most violent in the countries history. Motivated by anger against the brutal treatment by the police, along with grievances against rising inequality and cuts to public services, the people wanted answers. An investigation into the riots identified “a system seen as having failed some sections of society.” As a result of taking the issue to the streets, the authorities discovered problems in their own system.
Another example of police negligence and brutality is the death of 25-year-old Jacob Michael from Widnes. Jacob was arrested at his home in August 2011, when police used pepper spray to subdue him. Surveillance footage shows disturbing scenes when he later arrived at the police station. While struggling to breathe and pleading to officers to loosen the handcuffs, the police left Jacob face down on the floor of a cell for several minutes with an officer standing on his legs. Moments later, attempts are made by officers and a nurse to resuscitate him. Jacob Michael died in custody at the hands of Cheshire police.
These are just two recent examples of abuse of powers by the police in England. I wish I could tell you that these are isolated cases but unfortunately, they’re not. For this reason, we must encourage people to stand up to this injustice and use their freedom to protest and voice their opinion to bring change. In addition, this may inspire future leaders, campaigners and revolutionaries to eradicate police brutality, poverty, racism and social injustice.
Changes Challenges Racism, Poverty & Police Brutality
A brilliant example of this came recently, after reading the late, great Afeni Shakur’s book; Evolution Of A Revolutionary. She spoke about how an image of a defiant Huey Newton inspired her own revolutionary path. “When I saw a picture of Huey Newton on the steps of the California Capitol with a shotgun, in front of police and government officials just standing there with his comrades exercising their right to bear arms. That was powerful for me.”
Imagine if Afeni’s revolutionary son and Hip Hop artist, Tupac Shakur, was still alive. Would we still be witnessing the horrors of police brutality on Black people? Brought up by Afeni, surrounded by strong revolutionary leaders, Tupac cared for his people. He gave a voice to the voiceless and hope to the hopeless. In 1992, he recorded a song titled Changes. Released posthumously in 1998, Changes was Tupac’s overview of the state of America. Touching on the same issues that we’re still talking about almost 30 years on, Tupac speaks from his heart. He pleads for the country to right its wrongs and make a change. The lyrics within this song will touch and resonate with everybody.
I see no changes wake up in the morning and I ask myself
Is life worth living should I blast myself?
I’m tired of bein’ poor and even worse I’m black
My stomach hurts so I’m lookin’ for a purse to snatch
Cops give a damn about a negro
Pull the trigger kill a (brother) he’s a hero
Give the crack to the kids who the hell cares
One less hungry mouth on the welfare
White, Black, nobody should suffer abuse, violence or harassment because of the color of their skin, we are all human and bleed the same. We need to teach and spread this message across the planet, with hope for future generations that can finally say; “We have defeated racism.”