Wherever you are in the world, you may have seen the recent video from 26 May of police officers standing over an unarmed black man lying on the ground. One of those police officers kneels on the neck of the black man, George Floyd, for at least nine minutes, preventing him from breathing. He dies on the way to hospital.
How to respond? At the least, we can get more informed about these increasing incidents of racial injustice and police brutality. It’s painful, but the escalation of this violence relies on us continuing to turn away, feeling powerless, not wanting to get involved.
Can you find one action to take, no matter how small, to try to mitigate this suffering? Even if it’s just to donate to groups such as the ACLU that are working for social justice. See links below:
Reverend Al Sharpton
Delivering the eulogy at a memorial service for George Floyd in Minneapolis, the Reverend Al Sharpton said: ‘George Floyd’s story has been the story of black folks.’ In an emotive speech punctuated by several standing ovations, Sharpton said the sight of diverse crowds of protesters across the world gave him hope that real change would come to the criminal justice system.
Rev William Barber
Only if the screams and tears and protests shake the very conscience of this nation can we hope for a better society on the other side of this
Insight Meditation Society guiding teachers’ response
The murder of George Floyd strikes the hearts and minds of so many with feelings of outrage, sadness, and grief, all the more that it was undeniably so overt, as if such actions were somehow acceptable. It is only because of the courage of the young woman who recorded it all, that the truth of the matter is unavoidably and forever there in front of our eyes, removing any illusion that the killing was somehow defensible or due to any action on the part of Mr. Floyd. …
All actions have their genesis in our hearts and minds. The light of awareness is in this moment shining brightly upon the tragic manifestations of hatred, ignorance and delusion that led to the death of George Floyd. Delusion blames others, creates enemies, and fosters disconnection, sustaining the illusion of separateness upon which war, racism, and injustice rest. True lasting change will only come when we awaken that sense of personal and shared responsibility and compassion for all.
For white people in our sanghas, there is a responsibility to educate ourselves about the historic and current expressions of racism and oppression so that we can be a positive force for the good. We are called upon to see and come close to the magnitude of the suffering before us, and not turn away once again as if these devastating events are singular occurrences. It is not enough to practice loving-kindness and compassion in the solitude of our meditation; we can all strive to have them manifest in our actions, actively seeking ways to address the immediacy of the suffering as well as its many underlying causes.
The same qualities that the Buddha taught as the basis for Awakening can be applied to our service in the world. It is time to bring consistently and persistently mindful awareness, keen discernment, energetic response, intense interest, a foundation of calm and steadiness, and a spaciousness that can hold it all. In telling the truth and helping others in whatever way we can, we are cultivating all these qualities in ourselves; and by cultivating them in ourselves, we develop the inner resources and resilience to effectively be of help to others.
IMS’s diversity resources page here
Lee Pelton, president of Emerson College’s response
Today, I write to you as a Black man and as President of Emerson College. There is no other way to write to you, given recent events. …
Black Americans are invisible to most of white America. We live in the shadows – even those of us, who like me, sit at the table of bounty. Ironically, at our colleges and universities we are hyper-visible in classrooms, work places, social settings, and as we go about our daily lives. …
George Floyd was invisible. And it was his invisibility, a brutal white power structure and Chauvin’s dehumanization of him that killed him. …
Black folks are sick and tired of being sick and tired.
So, I have no words of comfort today because they would be inauthentic. They would absolve so many from coming to terms with their own silent complicity in the world in which we live.
As I wrote to someone today, “This is not a black problem, but a structural issue built on white supremacy and centuries of racism. It’s your problem. And until you understand that, we are doomed to relive this week’s tragic events over and over again. What changes will you make in your own life? Begin with answering that question and maybe, just maybe we will get somewhere.”
The most important question is: What are you going to do?
Thousands in New Zealand protest against George Floyd killing
Tens of thousands of New Zealanders have come out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, after the death of George Floyd in the US.
At least four solidarity gatherings were held in the country on Monday afternoon, with massive crowds taking to their knees in the Auckland demonstration.
Info from a friend in Minneapolis:
First, here are some facts not reported in some of the national narrative right now (but captured by local MN media sources):
(1) Thousands have marched in MN and police clad in riot gear used rubber bullets and chemical irritants to disperse crowds
(2) The initial police report listed “medical incident while in custody” … this is now changing as “new information” is received.
(3) According to a local MN police training expert “a neck restraint” is currently listed as “a non-deadly force option’ in the Minneapolis Police Department Policy and Procedural Manual.
(4) George Floyd worked as a bouncer at a restaurant 10 minutes from my home and his employers, landlord, and co-workers talk about a man completely different from the official narrative of “resisting arrest”
Second, if you haven’t been following the process of police militarization and the euphemisms of “police reforms” and “police re-training” then please take five minutes to look at the below sources:
– Beyond Repair by Ricardo Levins Morales
Providing additional info and emerging action at the local level:
– Here in MN, we are almost at the 4 year anniversary of the killing of Philando Castile.
– While Mayor Frey quickly responded publicly to this event, he has consistently advocated for increasing police budgets while opposing past city council measures which would split executive control of the police force between the council and the mayor.
– Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman will make the election to bring charges against Derek Chauvin and the other officers. Local MN news sources have reported on Chauvin’s past history of use of force and that he has complaints filed against him during his time on the force.
– Minneapolis city council will be reviewing the police union contract this year, and local communities are demanding radical changes in mechanisms for accountability.
-Mobilizing efforts underway contacting Frey, Hennepin County Attorney and city council and more.
– Learn and donate. Below are two local organizations working now to power down policing and empower our neighbors and community members:
This is not just a USA issue
432 Indigenous Australians have died in custody since 1991
Aboriginal people whose family members have died in custody express solidarity with people on the streets of US cities protesting against the death of George Floyd