Police brutality against POC in the U.S. is globally infamous especially with the advent of social media. People from all over the world are watching as police continue to kill young Black men and women.
Actor John Boyega is no different, but he’s taken it a step further and used his platform to express what we are feeling: frustration and anger.
Boyega’s response to the ongoing crisis of police brutality was in no doubt exacerbated by the killing of the late George Floyd on Monday, May 25. Officers were responding to a “forgery in process” when they killed George Floyd.
The Killing of George Floyd
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George Floyd, a Houston native, moved to Minnesota “to be his best self,” as one friend put it. He worked security at a restaurant, where he developed a reputation as someone who had your back and was there for you when you were down. “Knowing my brother is to love my brother,” Philonise Floyd, George’s brother, told CNN’s Don Lemon Tuesday. “He’s a gentle giant, he don’t hurt anybody.” Floyd, 46, was killed Monday, his last moments caught on video. While being arrested, Floyd was held down by a Minneapolis police officer’s knee. The video shows Floyd pleading that he is in pain and can’t breathe. Then, his eyes shut and the pleas stop. He was pronounced dead shortly after. That officer and three others involved in the incident have been fired. (📸: Courtesy Ben Crump Law Firm)
Floyd allegedly tried to use a $20 bill that staff at Cup Foods suspected was fake, Floyd left the store peacefully when the staff wasn’t willing to take the bill. Staff called 911 according to their procedures when dealing with potential fraud.
Floyd was still outside the store with police arrived, and according to video evidence, the store owner and his surveillance video and several other witnesses, he was complying with police. Nine minutes later George Floyd was on the ground with officer Chauvin‘s knee on his neck and several other officers watching.
Witnesses implored the officer to stop because Floyd could not breathe and his nose was bleeding. Officer Chauvin killed George Floyd on the scene with asphyxiation.
Officers Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thau, J Alexander Kueng were fired after the release of the video. Chauvin has been subject to at least 10 complaints involving shootings and excessive force.
Tou Thau, the officer who stood watch as Chauvin killed Floyd, had previously settled out of court in 2017 for the use of excessive force among other incidents and complaints.
The Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis released a statement stating “Now is not the time to rush to judgment and immediately condemn our officers. ”
According to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, FBI and Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension are looking into the incident.
Protests Erupt for the Justice of Floyd
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Two days after an unarmed black man died in police custody, protesters marched in the streets of at least three major US cities. In Minneapolis, where George Floyd died Monday, the second night of protests turned violent as crowds of demonstrators clashed with police. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said Wednesday’s protests “evolved into an extremely dangerous situation” and asked demonstrators to leave the scene. Floyd’s family members also urged protesters to remain peaceful.
Since the death of George Floyd, several protests have broken out in Minneapolis. The protests seem to have begun on Wednesday with people gathering peacefully at the Third Precinct Headquarters until officers in an attempt to disperse the crowds started using flash-bang grenades and tear gas.
Later, mass looting all across South Minneapolis erupted. Officers continued to use tear gas and rubber bullets on looters and protestors alike.
Central Park Karen
The same morning of Floyd’s death, twelve hundred miles away we can witness another video detailing the racism of everyday America. This video shows Amy Cooper acting as what’s known as a “Karen,” calling the cops on a Black bird watcher after he asked her to put her dog on a leash as per the appropriate rules of that section of Central Park.
Oh, when Karens take a walk with their dogs off leash in the famous Bramble in NY’s Central Park, where it is clearly posted on signs that dogs MUST be leashed at all times, and someone like my brother (an avid birder) politely asks her to put her dog on the leash. pic.twitter.com/3YnzuATsDm
— Melody Cooper (@melodyMcooper) May 25, 2020
The white woman is unhappy with bird watcher Christian Cooper (no relation) video recording the interaction. She darts towards Cooper dragging her dog by the collar, visibly distressing the animal. Christain calmly asks her not to come closer to him.
Amy Cooper then threatens Christian with calling the police and makes it a point to inform him that she will be telling them that “an African-American man” is threatening her and her dog. At this point, Amy is visibly jerking and choking her dog with its collar.
Amy goes on to call the police and in a terrifyingly Rose in a Get Out way switches her voice and tone to embody the performance of life-threatened white woman we’ve all come to eerily recognize.
When the police arrive on the scene, neither Amy Cooper nor Christian Cooper are present, but the video of the incident has since gone viral. Amy Cooper’s employers have fired her and she released her dog to the animal shelter pending an investigation on the incident.
The space in which the incident occurred makes you remember the unjust incarceration of the Central Park 5. The popular Netflix original “When They See Us” documents the story of 5 young Black boys who were falsely accused and charged with the sexual assault of a white woman jogger in that very same park.
Boyega’s Frustration is also our own…
John Boyega Hates Racists
I really fucking hate racists.
— John Boyega (@JohnBoyega) May 27, 2020
This is the tweet that sparked a longer conversation filled with POC frustration and white murder-apologists. Twitter first began their dispute on whether Boyega meant white racists or all racists, a truly banal discussion in light of what’s been happening in the United States since it’s conception.
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i #RUNWithMaud 💔 The killing of former high school athlete Ahmaud Arbery jogging while Black occurred in a Georgia suburb on February 23. The shooters are former investigator with the district attorney’s office Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son, Travis McMichael, 34. According to the police report and video recently released, the father and son followed and blocked Arbery’s path and shot him under the excuse that they believed him to be a suspect of recent neighborhood burglaries. (We will not being showing said video). LINK TO SIGN THE PETITION IN BIO. Prosecutor George E. Barnhill, who had the case for a few weeks told the police that the pursuers had acted within the scope of Georgia’s citizen’s arrest statute. Arbery was 25 he would have turned 26 tomorrow. He was not carrying a weapon and according to the recently released video can be seen stopped by a truck and grappling with one of the men who was holding a shotgun as several shots are fired at him. The shooters are claiming self defense. Neither of the shooters have been arrested and after the video calls for their prosecution have swelled on social media, with users actively calling officials to bring justice for Arbery.
Nevertheless, Boyega set the record straight emphasizing that he is referring to white on Black racism in this instance. Responses from predominantly white Twitter users erupted with either disgust with Boyega’s clarification or an attempt at derailing his point by emphasizing the existence of racism elsewhere.
The tweet went viral with the age-old irrelevant arguments from police violence apologists and POC confusion on how a simple statement such as hating racists could have any opposition.
John Boyega continued to take no shit from BS arguments against the ‘hatred of white racism’ (still crazy that I just wrote that phrase.) Responding with clear explanations on the irrelevance or inappropriateness of the arguments on the discussion he’s having and also with simple outright rejection of rude and simply racist rhetoric.
— John Boyega (@JohnBoyega) May 27, 2020
I’ll say it again FUCK YOU, RACIST WHITE PEOPLE.
Later, John Boyega went to IG live to clearly express his frustrations with the twitter nonsense and redirect the conversation to what matters: Black lives. He began by giving general advice on how to deal with misinformation and interacting with those derailing the conversation at hand.
“It’s very very important that at this time that we ignore ignorance. […] That we ignore people who come through and try to make these situations what they’re not…”
He made it clear that this was NOT an apology video. And debunked some incorrect assumptions on his beliefs.
“I’m not even apologizing, first of all, you lot better fucking believe that, but there’s no way that I have the opinion that there’s no other form of racism. Of course, there are other forms of racism BUT, a Black man was just murdered in cold blood, in the streets state-side AGAIN. While stating that he can’t breathe.”
In response to many claiming he’s not qualified to speak on what happened to George Floyd or any violence against Black people in the US, he reaffirmed his stance on the matter.
“I’m here as a Black man with a great opportunity that you lot know that I’m grateful for but at the same time I’m not here to be playing no games when it comes to that racial shit. I am FOR my people. And that’s it. Period. ”
The rest of the IG Live covered Boyega’s commitment to always block users who say anything racist on his social media. He reiterates that he is not the guy to just let racists run amuck simply because they might be fans of his work.
“And if you’re a fan of me and you support my work and you’re racist and you’re arguing with what I was saying F*ck Off, you f*cking dickheads. Yeah? So it’s straight up like that, that’s how it’s gonna go. And for my whole career as an actor I’m gonna let you guys know this, I’m not the guy.”
He also goes on to explain that while other forms of racism exist in the world, this is not the time to be shining a light on it.
It’s Black people’s time to talk about the very real life and death issue of police brutality and racially motivated state violence. Boyega is not alone in his frustration and it’s good to know we’re not either.
Post updated June 3, 2020.