The press release that the Minneapolis Police Department published on its website on the night of May 25, 2020, a few hours after George Floyd’s death, was titled: “A man dies as a result of a medical incident during a police interaction ”. In the following paragraphs it is reported that the individual had “physically resisted” after getting out of the car, that the agents had been able to handcuff him and “realized that he was suffering from a medical problem”, so they called an ambulance that He took him to the county hospital, where he “died shortly after.” “No weapons were used,” the note said. “There were no officers injured.”
The following day, the same Department published a brief addition: “As additional information becomes available, it has been determined that the FBI collaborate in this investigation.”
What happened between one message and the other was the publication of the video of Darnella Frazier, a young woman of then 17 years who that holiday Monday was on the street where Floyd was arrested, took her mobile phone and began to record and record during the nine minutes and 29 seconds that the agony and death of Floyd asphyxiated under the knee of agent Derek Chauvin lasted while repeating, up to 27 times, that he could not breathe.
This Tuesday’s verdict, for which he was found guilty of the three homicide charges he faced, would not have been possible without those images posted on Facebook that knocked down the police version. This is what many of the people who took to the streets to celebrate the decision cried out and what the governor of Minnesota, Tim Walz, openly expressed: “That video, and I think many people know it, is perhaps the only reason for which Derek Chauvin will go to prison ”.
There were several pedestrians who recorded parts of what happened that day and during the trial hours and hours of different videos were viewed, but the sequence shot that Frazier recorded was the capital test of this milestone in the fight against police brutality. His was one of the testimonies that will be most remembered from this trial. His words, like those of many other witnesses, mixed guilt and helplessness. “I have spent whole nights awake,” he said on the stand, “asking and apologizing to George Floyd for not having done more, for not physically getting in the way and trying to save his life.” “But it is not what I should have done, but what he [el agente Chauvin] I should have done”.
When she, also an African American, looked at Floyd, she said in her statement, she could see any of the men in her family represented there, her father, her uncle, her brother or her cousin.
The harshness of what happened that May 25 in front of the Cup Foods store provoked, long before the trial, a majority and unusual condemnation of the police forces throughout the country, starting with the head of the Minneapolis Department himself. That person in charge, a black man named Medaria Arradondo, thanked for the dissemination of this video and encouraged citizens to record and ask for help in situations of such abuse. Speaking to the press last June, he said: “Record, record, of course. Record, call. Call a friend. Shout. Call 911, we need a supervisor on the scene. The community plays a fundamental role ”.
The United States saw a very ugly image of itself in that video, it observed how four members of its security forces, in broad daylight and surrounded by witnesses, were able to imprison to death a immobile and unarmed man who claimed that he did not he could breathe as the audience in attendance was asking uselessly for him to stop. The United States saw it and the world saw it.
As soon as she heard the jury’s decision, the girl, now 18 years old, wrote on her Facebook account: “I have cried a lot, during the last hour my heart has beat very fast and I was very anxious.” “We did George Floyd justice,” he added.
In the afternoon celebrations, posters were abundant with the question: “How many other [muertos] have they not been recorded? “
That is, at bottom, the question that remains behind this chapter in the judicial history of the United States. While the president, Joe Biden, denounced the “systemic racism” existing in the country, many police organizations consider Chauvin a bad apple that does not represent a structural problem in the forces of order. The president of the New York Police Association, Patrick J. Lynch, said in a statement: “What Derek Chauvin did was not a police action, he was killed. The jury has spoken and he will pay the consequences. Now is the time for a frank discussion about police work and citizen security that begins with the real challenges we face on the streets ”.
The attorney general of the United States, Merrick Garland, announced this Wednesday that the Department of Justice will open a global investigation into the practices of the Minneapolis police force, to elucidate whether, beyond the floyd case, unconstitutional or illegal actions are common. For years, agents have carried cameras in cars and attached to uniforms that record their most controversial operations and, to a large extent, explain the strength that the Black Lives Matter movement has acquired, but none of those images have shocked the world as much as those that Darnella Frazier collected with her mobile.
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