George Floyd did not want to be martyr

Photo by Daniel Irungu1

This week former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted for the murder of George Floyd last May 2020. The verdict came nearly one year after Chauvin was filmed impassively kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck and back for more than nine minutes. Under the officer’s knees, the man gasped for air, repeatedly exclaimed “I can’t breathe” until ultimately he went silent. Chauvin was found guilty on three charges: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. He will be sentenced next June.

Everybody on this now small planet could see that terrible video. The murder triggered a month of protests. Murals were painted across the world. George Floyd’s Death Revolutionized the Black Lives Matter Movement. He became an icon, and yes yet another martyr.

Thank you George Floyd for sacrificing your life for justice… Because of you and because of thousands, millions of people around the world who came out for justice, your name will always be synonymous with justice.

This is what Nancy Pelosi said at an event with the Congressional Black Caucus shortly after the verdict. And sorry, Mrs. Pelosi, but George Floyd did not want to be martyr. He is another unnecessary martyr. For all your good faith your words sound also terrible, they reveal the dark side of a society that still needs martyrs to change what’s obvious but we do not want to see.

It’s important to remember that the only reason we even reached this point where Chauvin was led away in handcuffs from the courtroom was because bystanders saw a horrific incident taking place, filmed the officers, called police on the police and begged for Chauvin to take his knee off of Floyd’s neck last May. It was a 17-year-old girl who captured the brutal murder on video which then went viral around the world. Because of her bravery, everyone could see the truth with their own eyes – the agonizing screams as Floyd repeatedly said “I can’t breathe” and begged for his life while Chauvin’s knee was continuously pressed firmly down on his neck.

Al Sharpton, The Guardian

The guilty verdicts against Chauvin are historic. He is the first white officer ever held accountable for killing a Black person in the state of Minnesota. Yet not far from where George Floyd was murdered, police recently shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright.

Could the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial mark a changing tide in holding law enforcement responsible for police violence? Is the Derek Chauvin verdict the start of change? Not likely, experts say.

The fight for equality, justice and true police reform has only just (if at all) begun. And I think it is a good moment to recall these seven myths about the Police, in particular #6.

  1. The police exercise legitimate authority. (the average police officer is not a legal expert.)
  2. The police are ordinary workers just like us; they should be our allies. (there’s a big gap between “should be” and “are.” The role of the police is to serve the interests of the ruling class,)
  3. Maybe there are some bad apples, but some police officers are good people. (Insofar as they obey orders rather than their consciences, they cannot be trusted.)
  4. Police can win any confrontation, so we shouldn’t antagonize them. (the police can seem invincible, but this is an illusion.)
  5. Police are a mere distraction from the real enemy, not worth our wrath or attention. (tyranny is not just a matter of politicians or executives; they would be powerless without those who do their bidding)
  6. We need police to protect us. (See below)
  7. Resisting the police is violent—it makes you no better than them. (According to this line of thinking, violence is

I am aware that some (many?) of you, dear readers, may disagree. You may think that even if we might aspire to live in a society without police in the distant future, we need them today, for people are not ready to live together peacefully without armed enforcers. But if that was the case, then there wouldn’t be such huge differences in terms of guard labour among countries, uncorrelated with a better/more secure society.

Opposition to police should be seen as a rejection of one of the most egregious sources of oppressive violence, not an assertion that without police there would be none. But if we can ever defeat and disband the police, we will surely be able to defend ourselves against less organized threats.


It is the spirit of rebellion without which freedom is literally unthinkable!

To me, this is very sad. Floyd’s six-year-old daughter saying “Daddy changed the world.” No, dear, he did not.

Ad astra, Mr. Floyd!


(1) Mandatory Credit: Photo by Daniel Irungu/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (10669277a) A Kenyan man (R) seats next to a graffiti in memory of the late US George Floyd painted on a perimeter wall by a group of Kenyan graffiti artists in support of the Black Lives Matter movement as their way to protest against the Police brutality in Kenya and USA in the Kibera slums in Nairobi, Kenya, 04 June 2020. Protesters across the globe have been holding protests to express their feelings regarding the death of 46-year-old George Floyd while in police custody. A bystander’s video posted online on 25 May appeared to show George Floyd, 46, pleading with arresting officers that he couldn’t breathe as an officer knelt on his neck, in Minnesota, USA. The unarmed black man later died in police custody. Police brutality mural in support of Black Lives Matter in Nairobi in wake of George Floyd’s death, Kenya – 04 Jun 2020

Featured Image: A mural by painter Fouad Hachmi near Brussels, Belgium.

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