George Floyd made a martyr – justified or not?
It is not surprising that people are asking what on earth is happening to the world, to the people in most countries. Isn’t it enough that thousands were killed and many more became direly ill due to a virulent bit of protein covered by a layer of fat? The illness, the deaths, the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) still continues and it has been such a devastating drain on medical and nursing personnel, hospital amenities and of course on the economies of all countries.
We in Sri Lanka are so very thankful to President Rajapaksa, Dr. Anil Jasinghe, doctors, nurses and health workers, the Army Commander, his men and other armed forces and the Police. They are the ones who took great precautions and quietly locked down many parts of the country, all contributed to keep infection contained. We pray it won’t deteriorate to social contagion. There is talk of a second wave and all that. We live in hope; while New Zealand is celebrating: the first and only country to beat the virus and keep it at bay.
The next pandemic was the uprising of young persons mostly, coloured, white and mixed, who rose up spontaneously and ferociously after George Floyd was mercilessly killed by White Police brutality in the United States of America. It started, this wave of protesting humans who soon turned to violence and looting, in all States across the US and spread down south and across oceans to the UK and Australia mostly.
George Floyd in death, whom masses rallied round and who is now elevated to martyr status is no hero nor martyr; no really decent human being either. He was jailed for breaking into shops and stealing and was not a regular worker, but a bouncer or chucker-out in night clubs. He was caught paying for what he bought with a counterfeit dollar bill, and the Police were informed on that fateful day. Not such a crime, but he was no saint. Undoubtedly, his even being manhandled by the Police was wrong, but we don’t really know what inflamed that Police Officer who sadistically pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck. The Police in the US are well known for their brutality and being against Blacks. That is because much of the crime is committed by Black Americans and other coloured people like immigrants from South America.
Honourable civil rights fighters
There have been most honourable black persons who fought against white supremacy and discrimination. They say the first real call for demanding the lifting of discriminating rules like segregating the blacks from the whites from everywhere – buses, parks, shops, schools, even hospitals was the civil rights movement in the 20th century. Of course, President Abe Lincoln (16th President, 1861-68) was the one who got slavery banned and gave some degree of human rights to previous slaves who were forcibly freed from Southern cotton fields and other areas. Quiet little Rosa Parks (1913-2005), a committed member of the civil rights movement, refused to give her seat in the coloured section of a bus to a white person who had no seat in the front section reserved for whites. That was in 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama.
A most prominent fighter for civil rights was Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-68) from Atlanta, Georgia, who led the March to Washington and delivered his famous-for-all-time “I have a dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on 28 August 1963.
Discrimination exists even today. It was a wonder of wonders that Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008 against McCain and served two terms. He was of course only half black, his mother being White American. But Trump had the indecent audacity to ask for his birth certificate, hinting he was not an American citizen.
We’ve seen famous sports people, singers, writers too from the Black American community. Paul Robeson is one, Michael Jordan – basketball player, who contributed a million to a fund started in Floyd’s name. Oprah Winfrey is a world famous TV presenter and now Michelle Obama is very well known and appreciated.
All over the world, including our country there are protests and calls for justice and fair play: here by minority races, in Hong Kong against Chinese supremacy; India – Hindus vs. Muslims.
Worse was the COVID-19 virus. But as in all clouds there is a silver lining: the earth recovered a little from the effects of pollution and global warming due to lockdowns.