On the evening of May 25th at 8pm, Minneapolis Police Officers were called to respond to a man, George Floyd, allegedly trying to use fake currency at a local deli, Cup Foods, while seeming to be under the influence. Upon encountering Floyd, the Officer Derek Chauvin restrained him to the ground, placing his knee on Floyd’s neck for over seven minutes, while Floyd mentioned several times that he couldn’t breathe. The final four minutes, Floyd stopped moving. When paramedics arrived, they attempted to do chest compressions, but Floyd was pronounced dead up arrival at Hennepin County Medical Center.
Because Floyd was African-Amercian, and the Officer who killed him was Caucasian, many are pressing the narrative that Floyd was killed either intentionally or specifically because of his race.
In 1955, racism wasn’t just ideological, it was bureaucratic as Jim Crow laws in the South enforced racial segregation. Amidst this oppressive environment arose one of the greatest civil rights leaders of our history – Dr. Martin Luthor King – and he did it specifically with a platform of peaceful protests and non-violence. In the words of the King Center, describing Dr. King:
”Drawing inspiration from both his Christian faith and the peaceful teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. King led a nonviolent movement in the late 1950’s and ‘60’s to achieve legal equality for African-Americans in the United States. While others were advocating for freedom by “any means necessary,” including violence, Martin Luther King, Jr. used the power of words and acts of nonviolent resistance, such as protests, grassroots organizing, and civil disobedience to achieve seemingly-impossible goals.”
And achieve those goals he did. With his convictions, with his faith, with his being a bigger person than those who oppressed him. In his own words:
“Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love… Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate the white man, but to win his friendship and understanding.”
In the aftermath of the George Floyd case in Minnesota, there have been 8 days of violent protests, destruction of property, arson, looting and theft. Over 170 buildings were damaged in just the first four days, and business owners, who have nothing to do with George Floyd, are suffering vandalism and robbery. In Denver, protestors have destroyed the cars of innocent people, and attacked law enforcement. Gunshots were even fired into the air. There have been thousands of dollars worth of property damage. Similar violence has happened in NY with physical altercations. In New York last night, a police officer was mowed down by a vehicle. In St. Louis, four police offers were shot. In Northern California, two federal officers were shot, one fatally, who was black.
Two wrongs don’t make a right; and victimizing innocent people out of outrage for someone being victimized is hypocritical. We cannot idolize Dr. Martin Luthor KIng while doing the exact opposite of what he stood for. Why was he so opposed to responding with violence? In his own words”
“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy, instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that”
Dr. King illustrates how escalating evil, creates more evil. He shows how the power of being better than your oppressor, not the same, changes the world. He was a great man. This generation could learn a lot from him.