I can’t get the horrifying imagery out of my head.
George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, begging for his life as a burly, sneering, disinterested white police officer presses a large knee down on his neck.
‘I can’t breathe, man! Please!’ pleads Floyd, handcuffed and pinned face down on the road.
The officer, Derek Chauvin, a man with 17 complaints against him during his 19-year career, continues pressing.
‘I can’t breathe,’ Floyd cries out again, ‘please, the knee in my neck!’
Chauvin ignores him and carries on kneeling heavily on his neck.
Floyd groans loudly and in a moment of desperate poignancy shouts for his dead mother: ‘MAMA! MAMA!’
Chauvin keeps pressing.
‘Please, please, please,’ Floyd begs again. ‘I can’t breathe!’
In total, he shouts ‘I can’t breathe’ 16 times in under five minutes.
But all his pleas fell on deaf ears even as shocked bystanders scream at Chauvin, ‘Let him breathe!’ and ‘Get off of him now!’
One even exclaims: ‘Bro, he’s not f*cking moving!’
Chauvin never wavers, and never stops pressing his knee on Floyd’s neck, for eight minutes and 46 seconds.
For the last two minutes and 53 seconds of that time, Floyd fell silent and unresponsive, his head slumped unconscious on the cement.
‘You think this is OK?’ shrieked one member of the public as he saw Floyd’s motionless body. ‘Check his pulse! The man ain’t moved!’
Others, equally stunned, shouted ‘Get off his neck!’ and ‘Get off him!’
Yet Chauvin still pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck.
Even when an ambulance arrived, and a medic checked Floyd’s pulse,
Chauvin kept his knee pressed down.
At 8.27pm, Chauvin finally released his knee but only when he is told to by the medics.
Floyd was rolled onto a gurney and taken to Hennepin Medical Center where he died an hour later, less than 90 minutes after a grocery store employee had first called police to claim Floyd had used a fake $20 bill to buy some cigarettes.
I, like many millions, have watched some despicable racist acts in recent weeks.
First, a young black man Ahmaud Arbery, 25, being hunted down and murdered while he was out jogging in Georgia by two white men, Gregory and Travis McMichael, in a pick-up truck.
Then a white woman, Amy Cooper, reacting to a black man, Christian Cooper, politely asking her to leash her dog in New York’s Central Park, by phoning 911 to hysterically and falsely claim an ‘African-American man’ was threatening her life.
But nothing quite prepared me for the undiluted horror of seeing George Floyd being slowly murdered by a white policeman on the streets of Minneapolis.
This, like the other incidents, was captured by several cell phone cameras.
And what I saw made me feel physically sick to the very pit of my stomach.
The devil of it was in the diabolical detail, played out in real time like some kind of hideous snuff movie.
George Floyd’s death would have been just another sad statistic, doubtless framed as a tragic accident involving a man using fake money who resisted arrest so hard that he caused his own life to end.
But there was just one problem for the police officers who might have concocted such a defence: the whole thing was captured on film and streamed to Facebook Live for the world to witness.
We’ve all now seen with our own eyes what Derek Chauvin did; the sickening heartless brutality in his cold, hard face, the despicably ugly self-satisfied power trip he goes on as he exercises the full power of his knee on a defenceless man’s neck.
We’ve seen, at first hand, the terrifying reality of what it really means to be black in America right now.
And we’ve seen, with terrible irony, how right NFL star Colin Kaepernick was to take the knee to protest about police brutality against black people.
Let’s be very clear: George Floyd was killed because he was a black man whose life just didn’t matter to Derek Chauvin.
That much is crystal clear from the nonchalant, staggeringly callous way Chauvin allows Floyd to slowly expire from life under his knee.
Even by the dreadful standards of police violence against black people in America, this is a new low.
It’s the moment everything Kaepernick said about black people’s discrimination at the hands of the criminal justice system is shown to be shockingly, inarguably true.
That’s why the whole country has exploded with fury.
That’s why cities are burning.
That’s why there’s rioting on the streets.
I don’t condone any of the looting and violence.
It’s shameful, wrong, and self-defeating.
As Martin Luther King said: ‘Hate begets hate; violence begets violence. Toughness begets a greater toughness.’
But my God, I understand the rage of the protesters.
And it’s just not good enough for white people like me to watch George Floyd die, shake our heads and say how awful it is, rant about the looters, then turn away and get on with our comparatively privileged lives.
This is a wake-up moment for all of us.
Yet the one person who could most powerfully effect change is doing the complete opposite.
President Trump had one job to do after this terrible killing – and that was to heal the raging wounds of fellow Americans.
To speak to them from the Oval Office, with love, and respect and empathy.
To say he understood their anger and would do everything in his power to stop more black people like George Floyd being killed by the very people charged with protecting their lives.
Instead, as America burned, Trump poured fuel onto the fire.
‘When the looting starts, the shooting starts,’ he tweeted on Friday.
This was a direct quote from racist Miami police chief Walter Headley in 1967, who referred to Civil Rights protests by saying: ‘There is only one way to handle looters and arsonists during a riot and that is to shoot them on sight. I’ve let the word filter down: when the looting starts, the shooting starts.’
Earlier that month, Headley had ‘declared war’ on crime and said his primary target was ‘aimed at young Negro males, from 15 to 21.’
So, here was the President of the United States effectively telling black people protesting at the murder of a black man by a police officer that more black people were now going to be killed by police officers.
It’s hard to imagine a more reckless, incendiary thing to say at such a tense time.
When his comments sparked fury, Trump tried to pretend he didn’t know the history behind the phrase.
But he knew what he was saying.
We all knew what he was saying.
And as with his spectacular ineptitude during the coronavirus pandemic that’s led to over 100,000 deaths in the U.S., Trump’s loose-tongued rhetoric has made things ten times worse.
Where he should heal, he’s divided.
Where he should calm, he’s inflamed.
Where he should lead, he’s failed.
As he always does, Trump has reacted to justified criticism by repeatedly lashing out at the ‘fake news media’, and unsurprisingly, a large number of journalists have been targeted by police in the past few days – arrested, pepper sprayed and shot at with rubber bullets.
The President, not content with encouraging police to shoot black protesters, wants them to see the media as the enemy too.
It’s a total disgrace, aimed to show his base supporters what a big tough guy he is.
But where did the big tough guy go when his comments led to large numbers of protesters converging outside the White House?
The President was taken by Secret Service agents to a secure underground bunker for his own safety. That’s where.
He even boasted he couldn’t have felt ‘more safe’, and warned there were dogs and heavy weaponry waiting for anyone who tried to get near him.
What a shame there were no dogs, heavy weaponry or Secret Service agents around to stop George Floyd being murdered.
The world is in crisis from a deadly virus and crying out for strong leadership.
Normally, this would be led by the United States of America.
But America is today in utter chaos, with the worst COVID-19 death toll, 40 million job losses, a devastated economy and now the worst racial equality riots since MLK was assassinated in 1968.
And the President’s response, which must be delighting rival superpowers like China, is to self-implode – hurling off his own verbal fire- bombs and then hiding in his bunker as they explode.
On Saturday, Trump went down to Florida to watch Elon Musk’s rocket Falcon 9 fire up into space.
It was a reminder to the world of America at its pioneering, buccaneering, inspiring best and a moment for millions of Americans to feel pride in their country.
But it was just a fleeting moment amid the mayhem that’s brought the country to its knees and left the rest of the world looking on aghast.
In 64 A.D. a great fire ravaged Rome for six days, destroying 70% of the city and leaving half the population homeless.
Emperor Nero, so legend has it, was safely tucked away in his villa 35 miles away, playing the fiddle. His people never forgave him.
America, already reeling from coronavirus, is now engulfed with anarchy.
And the President is shamefully fiddling as it burns.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Piers Morgan