George Floyd, a black man arrested in his car on a street in Minneapolis, Minnesota, died after a white policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, ignoring his words “I can’t breathe.” For days now, protesters have gathered in the streets of many US cities — New York, St. Paul, Philadelphia, Miami, Detroit, Los Angeles — to denounce the incident and hundreds of people in London, Berlin, and Paris have voiced their solidarity with the US protesters.
Filipinos can well understand this reaction to that incident in Minneapolis. When the US replaced Spain as our new colonial power in 1898, the Americans sought to establish a democratic republican government similar to theirs, with the same basic principles on human rights.
In 1776, the US Declaration of Independence stated: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The Philippine Constitution today reflects this principle of equality of all men with the provision: “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the law.”
George Floyd appeared to have been denied these rights in the video seen all over the US. With his hands manacled behind his back, his face to the concrete sidewalk, he died after almost nine minutes of the full weight of the white policeman on his neck. Protest demonstrations began soon afterwards – in Minneapolis itself and soon in other American cities.
In the nation’s capital Washington, DC, protesters converged at Lafayette Square in front of the White House and Secret Service agents rushed President Donald Trump to a White House bunker Friday night. The protests continued for days afterwards and police fired tear gas to break up the crowd at one point. Trump has now warned he will call out military troops if the protests continue in Washington and in the other cities of the country.
Many of the protesters were particularly concerned with the fact that George Floyd was a black man, the latest of a number of black men who have recently died while in police custody. But black, brown, or white, the death of any man already subdued and under complete police control must have seemed to the protesters as violating that respect for the rights of all men in the US Declaration of Independence.
The policeman who knelt on George Floyd’s his neck has now been charged with murder and the others with him in the sidewalk incident have been fired. The legal process should help assure protesters that justice will be served. But the continuing unplanned, uncoordinated protest movement arising from a primeval concern for justice and respect for human rights may continue a while longer and we will continue to follow developments in the streets of America.
=”https://news.mb.com.ph//roni-santiago/” rel=””>Roni Santiago
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