The Double Standard of the Right to Protest in the United States

protest Belatina Latinx George Floyd
People hold signs and sit on a bus stop during a protest near where a Minneapolis Police Department officer allegedly killed George Floyd, on May 26, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. - A video of a handcuffed black man dying while a Minneapolis office (KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

“In this country American means white,” Toni Morrison once said. “Everybody else has to hyphenate.”

And the latest example of this has been the response of the forces of law and order when it comes to expressing discontent.

Following the death of 47-year-old George Floyd at the Hennepin County Medical Center as a result of the abuse of force by four Minneapolis police officers, hundreds of protesters packed the streets to denounce the pandemic of African-American deaths at the hands of law enforcement officials.

Floyd had been arrested Monday night after officers responded to a call about an alleged forgery in progress, CNN reported. The video that has gone viral about the arrest shows the man handcuffed and pinned to the ground and a police officer’s knee pressed against his neck, while Floyd cried out that he could not breathe. 

On Tuesday night, protests at the intersection where the man was arrested escalated and moved into one of the police stations between chants of “No justice, no peace” and “I can’t breathe,” the last words that can be heard from Floyd’s mouth on the video.

Soon the protesters had to endure attacks by riot gear, including tear gas canisters and non-lethal projectiles, which the Minneapolis police said were used to disperse people who attacked the area with stones.

Social networks were then populated with comparative images of the difference between the police response to demonstrations for the right to life of African Americans and other types of demonstrations seen in recent weeks, where armed white men invaded Michigan’s State Capitol with firearms during the lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic, for example.

 

“Here in the great nation, white people can go into the capitol WITH WEAPONS and the police can stand up to pressure and let them express themselves. People of other colors are protesting and the police are using violence. Some Black people just exist and breathe, and the police KILL them,” wrote one user.

 

“George Floyd died at the scene. His mistake? Being black. This is America,” said another user.

 

So far, thanks to community pressure, the FBI has opened a civil rights investigation, but many are calling for officers to be not only fired but prosecuted and convicted of murder.

“They treated him worse than they treat animals,” said Philonise Floyd, Mr. Floyd’s brother, to the New York Times. “They took a life — they deserve life.”