On Monday, George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man in Minneapolis, Minnesota, died after Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer, knelt on his neck for eight minutes, CNN reported. Video footage later posted on social media showed a total of three officers kneeling on Floyd’s body during the arrest, CNN further reported.
In response, protests occurred in Philadelphia yesterday, following nationwide demonstrations in cities like Minneapolis, Atlanta and Los Angeles, as demonstrators responded to Floyd’s murder and the death of other Black individuals by police, CBS News reported.
The Editorial Board would like to foremost express our condolences toward the Floyd family, the Black community and all who are been affected by the inhumane murder of Floyd.
The Editorial Board acknowledges our privilege and intrinsic biases during this time. We are a majority-white Editorial Board coming from a majority-white school living in a historically Black and Latinx community and cannot fully understand the centuries-long oppression of Black individuals, regardless of how much we may try to educate ourselves.
Nevertheless, this does not mean that we will stop learning about the reality of police violence and institutionalized racism.
Rather, our Board aims to use this time to gain a greater understanding of the political, cultural and economic systems adding to the oppression of Black individuals and people of color, especially in our contemporary criminal justice system. We also pledge to use this time to unlearn our biases and intrinsic dispositions about race, which have been taught to us throughout our lives through biased media coverage, education and familial influence.
While we reflect on the events of May 25, the Editorial Board would like to use our platform to remind our readers of the reality of police brutality in the United States and invite our readers to reflect on their privileges and biases.
Floyd isn’t the only Black man to be killed by police this week, as Tony McDade, a 38-year-old Black transgender man in Tallahassee, Florida, was fatally shot by a police officer on May 27, NBC News reported.
Our Philadelphia community is not isolated from the reality of police violence.
In June 2017, in Huntington Park, David Jones, a 30-year-old Black man, was fatally shot in his back after dropping a gun he was carrying and running from a police officer. Six months later, a police officer shot East Germantown resident Dennis Plowden, a 25-year-old Black man, after he had been chased by the police and emerged from his car with one arm behind his back, WHYY reported.
Black individuals are three times more likely to be killed by police than their white counterparts, and eight of the nation’s 100 largest police departments kill Black men at a higher rate than the U.S. murder rate, according to Mapping Police Violence, a nationwide organization that collects data about police violence.
Between 2013-2019, 99 percent of killings by police did not result in the officers at fault being charged with a crime, according to Mapping Police Violence. Chauvin being arrested and charged with murder and manslaughter is an anomaly.
These statistics are not an exhaustive depiction of the reality of police violence in America, and we encourage our readers to conduct their own research on racism and the criminal justice system. Facts present an unambiguous truth of Black individuals being murdered by police officers at disproportionately high rates.
We also encourage our readers to ally themselves with the Black community and donate to organizations fighting for equality, sign petitions calling for greater accountability in cases of police violence and vote for elected officials willing to change the criminal justice system.
Lastly, we ask our readers not to forget the victims of police brutality and to remember May 25 as a day that we, as members of the Temple community, did not dismiss the reality of police violence.
George Floyd, Tony McDade, David Jones, Dennis Plowden, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Michael Brown — these are only eight of the dozens of names of Black individuals murdered by police this decade. Don’t forget those names and don’t be silent.
Their lives matter — Black lives matter.