By The Broadside Editorial Board
Note: This editorial reflects the opinion of The Broadside’s team of editors—Emma Evenhus, Seth Root and Luke Reynolds and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Broadside’s staff as a whole.
On May 25, 2020, an unarmed black man by the name of George Floyd died when four police officers physically restrained him after being suspected of passing out a counterfeit $20 bill.
After seeing a plethora of videos, which were very hard to watch, it is obvious that the police used excessive force. Kneeling on Floyd’s neck, while already being restrained and held down, is unacceptable and not in step with normal policing procedure. Thankfully, the four policemen were fired and were all charged with second-degree murder.
However, the arrests do not stop the fact that people are angry at the injustice performed by the Minnesota Police. Showing anger by peacefully protesting is legitimate and well within the rights of the people under the Constitution. Rioting and looting, however, is unacceptable behavior. People have lost their jobs, their homes and some have even lost their lives due to the rioting and looting. As Floyd’s brother Philonise Floyd said about such behavior, “I’m never going to get my brother back.”
The recent riots and protests have been a result of years of racial tension finally reaching their boiling point, with Floyd’s passing being the final straw. People want justice, and they want it right now. This issue can’t be solved overnight. Decades of racism, poor training of police officers and the lack of accountability all contribute to the climate we see today. It can be hard to find a solution that satisfies each individual issue. Many have suggested separating police services into specialized departments that handle different issues, or defunding police departments in general.
Even if the policies change, they cannot get rid of systemic racism across the country. Ignorance can spread faster than before through social media, making the divide between communities even worse. There needs to be solid leadership to keep the momentum of this movement going, or else it will die out. Whether that be in the form of more grassroots protests or central figures equivalent to people like Martin Luther King Jr., we are in a prime position to support these things as college students. We will be the next people to inherent this country. There have been many tragedies over the past few years that have either been forgotten or overshadowed by other events. School shootings, wildfires and climate change are examples of this. Floyd’s death should not be one of them.
To really bring about change so that Floyd’s memory lives on, we can vote. Our elected officials have the authority to change police culture and the criminal justice system. Don’t believe us? It is your local mayors that appoint police chiefs. It is local District and State Attorneys that prosecute the police when they have committed a crime. They have the power to make necessary changes. For there to be change, we must vote. Otherwise, this could happen again.