The Death of George Floyd: One year ago today, George Perry Floyd Jr. died during an arrest in Minneapolis. Here’s what both sides are saying. To have stories like this and more delivered directly to your inbox, be sure to sign up for our newsletter.
Top Story: The Death of George Floyd
One year ago today, on May 25, 2020, George Perry Floyd Jr. “died after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes during an arrest,” Fox News reports. The murder “sparked months of protests across the US against alleged police brutality and racism.” In a related piece, CNN outlines how “Floyd’s death sparked widespread protests and rekindled the Black Lives Matter movement. It also elevated a national conversation about race, police brutality and social injustice. It illustrated in clear visuals what Black Americans have long said about the ways that the criminal justice system dehumanizes Black people.” Here’s what both sides are saying one year later.
On The Left
Left-leaning outlets and commentators aren’t convinced that the United States has made substantial progress since Floyd’s death. Although it sparked a global movement, violent crime is spiking in major cities and progress is slowing on any meaningful legislation in Washington DC.
Minneapolis Still a Mess: In the Washington Post, Holly Bailey writes, “A year after George Floyd’s death sent millions across the country into the streets in some of the largest sustained protests in American history, the city at the center of that movement continues to struggle with its own reckoning over policing, equality, and racial justice.” She says Minneapolis “remains a city in turmoil, with many of the racial inequities highlighted during last year’s protests unresolved. The police department is in crisis — woefully understaffed, its officers demoralized… At the same time, there has been a pronounced increase in crime while the relationship between the police and residents remains fractured.” Zooming out, “The surge in violent crime isn’t unique to Minneapolis. Cities across the country, including Atlanta and Chicago, have reported spikes in shootings and homicides,” Bailey reports. In a related New York Times article, Tim Arango writes, “Murders increased by 36 percent last year in Los Angeles.” Ultimately, “The surge is prompting cities whose leaders embraced the values of the [defund the police] movement last year to reassess how far they are willing to go to reimagine public safety and divert money away from the police and toward social services.”
Going Global: On an international scale, a trio of authors from The Guardian outline how “The high-profile murder of Floyd… captured the parallels between police violence against Black people across the globe.” They add that “The execution reflected a common history of violence against Black people, from slavery to colonialism, that united protesters in a renewed global movement against the legacy of empire and its enduring racist symbols.” Statues have been toppled and monuments removed, both in the US and abroad. Historian Robin DG Kelley says, “This reclaiming of public history isn’t new, but Floyd’s death was the latest catalyst,” adding that it “already had an international dimension.” Ultimately, Kelley shares, “It wasn’t simply sympathy for another African American victim. It was a recognition that this kind of violence was happening all over the world.”
Lastly, in NY Mag, Zak Cheney-Rice writes that “Last year’s outcry, in all its dizzying complexity, marked an American rebellion of unusual scope and intensity that coincided with a confluence of social factors that might never be replicated again.” With that said, “One year later, even early signs of progress have begun to acquire a sour taste.” Keep reading.
On The Right
Right-leaning voices and commentators focus on how Floyd’s death and Derek Chauvin’s subsequent conviction will have a lasting impact on the legal justice system. Despite countless headlines that include phrases like “systemic racism” and “unconscious bias,” some note that race relations are actually improving.
Justice System Is Now Weaker: Writing for Unherd, Bret Weinstein chronicles “The day American justice died.” He points out that police body cameras and bystander footage is meant to “increase our understanding of an interaction… But in this case, the extra cameras… had the opposite effect.” Instead, “The citizen-cameras began filming late in the sequence of events, effectively editing out context that only later emerged.” As a result, “The full context of what happened that day — every exculpatory fact — faced an uphill battle.” In effect, Weinstein claims there was a “mass rush to judgement” that led to “deranged mobs… protests… and riots.” He argues that no matter what you think about someone like Derek Chauvin, “The presumption of innocence and the burden and standard of proof” are crucial “because that [is] woven into the fabric of America.” Moreover, this has “been among our most important exports,” he writes. Weinstein poses a question: “If we surrender the principle that these structures guard, if we tear down the tremendous obstacles our founders built to protect citizens from the state, where does it leave the rest of us?”
Race Relations Are Actually Good: Meanwhile, in the Wall Street Journal, Jason L. Riley uses a bullish headline to claim that “Race Relations in America Are Better Than Ever.” First, “Former supporters of Barack Obama, not white nationalists, were the voters responsible for Mr. Trump’s election,” as Trump “flipped millions of white working-class Obama supporters to his side,” per a 2017 New York Times report. Secondly, citing data from political scientist Eric Kaufmann, Riley says, “Intermarriage trend lines also undermine the notion that racial bigotry in America is a growing problem.” In 1958, “approval of black-white intermarriage [was] 4%”. “In 2017, fewer than 10% of whites… said that interracial marriage was a ‘bad thing.’” Lastly, “Fatal encounters between police officers and black suspects are… also exceedingly rare.” Citing a Washington Post database, Riley notes, “Police shot and killed 999 people in 2019, including 424 whites and 252 blacks. Twelve of the black victims were unarmed, versus 26 of the white victims.” He concludes by saying, “In a country where annual arrests number more than 10 million, if those black death totals constitute an ‘epidemic’ of police use of lethal force against blacks, then the word has lost all meaning.”
Exporting Wokeness: Lastly, Matthew Continetti of National Review also outlines the global ramifications of the events that followed Floyd’s death. Specifically, in regards to the recent crisis in the Middle East, he writes, “The Revolution [has come] for Israel.” Continetti argues that when Barack Obama was president, “Anti-Israel invective was limited to the fringe.” However, “Then came the Great Awokening,” he writes. “The dialectic of Black Lives Matter and Donald Trump drove the nation into its current obsession with race, culminating in the protests, riots, vandalism, cancellations, and iconoclasm that followed the murder of George Floyd one year ago.” This gave rise to a more radical Left, with “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her anti-Israel, socialist ‘Squad’ of congressional Democrats [that] collapses individuals and events into a reductive binary of oppressor and oppressed.” Ultimately, the “revolutionary fervor to American politics” that arose over the past year “is a problem for Israel [and] for America,” Continetti writes.
Flag This: The Death of George Floyd
According to a newNPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, “Only 17% of Americans believe race relations are better today than they were a year ago.” Moreover, an Axios-Ipsos poll “revealed that more than 75% of people believe that America is a racist country.”
Public opinion and polling are shaped by what we watch, listen, and read. With that said, there is no way to overstate the importance of word choice. This is why we kicked off today’s edition with two quotes from Fox and CNN. If you scroll to the top, you’ll see the two outlets — which occupy opposite sides of the political spectrum — describe the same event and those that followed. Yet, they frame the story through a larger narrative using slightly varied descriptions.
Two phrases stand out that highlight how major media outlets compete for mind control and public perception: Fox News’ use of “alleged” and CNN’s use of “illustrated in clear visuals.” Upon closer review, these phrases directly contradict one another. The word “alleged” infers there is little-to-no proof that something happened or exists, in this case “police brutality and racism.” Conversely, CNN says Floyd’s death, which was filmed, “illustrated in clear visuals” the existence of indisputable proof that “the criminal justice system dehumanizes Black people.”
George Floyd’s death had a major impact on hundreds of millions of people across both the country and world. Ultimately, the media sank their teeth into that sentiment to double down on an existing agenda and further divide the country.
Flag Poll: The Death of George Floyd
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