By Alula Nugese
There’s a saying: same old, just a different day. During the midst of the pandemic in 2020, the country witnessed a movement like no other. This, of course, being the Black Lives Matter movement. Especially in May and June, protests were nationwide, and it felt like there could be change. It felt as if there would be an effect. Nearly a year later, and the tragic cases are still present, and there seems to be no hope for change.
This week the George Floyd family (and the whole country) reacted to the news of the Derek Chauvin trial. He was convicted of murder on all three charges and his sentencing is soon to follow in eight weeks. Even a year after the horrifying video, there are still those such as Virginia senator Amanda Chase, who say the conviction ‘makes me sick.’
The question then becomes, why? Why can some people not sympathize or understand with these victims? In the era we live in today, everything is filmed, everyone has a camera. We are beginning to see the exact situation unfold. People saw Chauvin press his knee to Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes, and this still is not enough to convince others’?
A study done by Harvard concluded that black people are three times as likely to be killed during police contact as opposed to white people. This number can spike up to nearly six times as likely in certain metropolitan areas like San Francisco, New York and Milwaukee.
Hispanic Americans are also killed by police at disproportionate rates compared to white people. According to the Washington Post, a Hispanic person is killed nearly twice as often.
Meanwhile, a survey done before last year’s election found that 93% of black people in the U.S. considered police treatment of black people to be an important factor in their vote for president. It has been more than three months since Joe Biden was inaugurated, and the lawmakers in Washington D.C. have done close to nothing to solve this issue.
During just the month of April, we can see that police are still brutalizing young adults or in some cases mere children. Daunte Wright was a 20-year-old black man who was killed during an altercation with police in Minnesota. Wright attempted to resist arrest after being pulled over for outstanding warrants. The police officer, who in the video yelled “I’ll tase you,” proceeded to shoot Wright with a pistol. The police chief then said it was an accident, because the police officer with over 20 years on the force, didn’t know the difference between a gun and a taser.
Another case involving a 13-year-old boy in Chicago, Adam Toledo, resulted in a death as well. Toledo was encountered by a single police officer after running in an alley. The policeman asked Toledo to ‘drop it’ referring to the gun he had. Toledo attempted to put his hands up, and the officer shot him less than a second later.
In Columbus, there was a case involving a 16-year-old girl being killed by a police officer. This case is not similar to the others however, due to the nature of the scene. Ma’Khia Bryant, the victim of the shooting, had a knife in her hand and attempted to stab another girl before she was shot and killed by the police officer. Nonetheless, this garnered protests of more than 100 people in downtown Columbus. Many celebrities, such as Gabrielle Union, spoke out against this saying, “we didn’t get justice.”
Although all three of these cases put the police officers in tough positions, does this excuse the deaths of Wright, Bryant and Toledo? Thousands of protestors stormed the streets of Saint Paul, Minnesota, Chicago and Columbus to once again protest the injustice they felt was evident in these videos.
Here in Cincinnati, we have seen police brutality rear its ugly head. Samuel DuBose was an unarmed black man who was fatally shot in the head in 2015 after being stopped for not having a front license plate. According to police officer, when he tried to open his door, DuBose closed it and put the car in drive. Somehow his arm got stuck in DuBose’s vehicle, which made the officer fear for his life, so he shot him. In this case, the police officer lied in his report, because the bodycam footage that was later revealed did not show him being dragged.
In the future, is the country just going to see this cycle reoccur countless times, or will real change actually take place? It is a fair question to ask, because the support for police is still strong no matter who they shoot, and the politicians in Washington D.C. are having trouble agreeing on anything. This is a recipe for disaster, and as a country, we can only hope that a solution is arriving sooner rather than later.