`Limp with relief' after conviction in Floyd killing
Local African-canadian historian Elise Harding-davis can finally breathe freely now that justice has been served in the killing of George Floyd.
“I'm limp with relief,” Harding-davis said Wednesday, a day after the conviction of Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer found guilty on two counts of murder and one of manslaughter in the May 25, 2020, death of Floyd, a Black man.
“Living in the real world, the prospect of a police person being even arrested let alone charged and found guilty of a crime is pretty rare,” she said. “It was such a shock, in a good way. The majority of the world and certainly the majority
of the members of Black society have been holding their breath for almost a year over this murder.”
Chauvin, who was fired by the Minneapolis police department after the incident, which was captured by bystanders on video, kneeled on Floyd's neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds while arresting him. He kept his knee there even after the handcuffed Floyd stopped moving and speaking.
The video went viral, sending millions of people into the streets demanding justice and propelling the Black Lives Matter movement around the world.
The event brought back memories for Harding-davis of the lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till in Mississippi in 1955 after the young Black boy was accused of offending a white woman in her family's grocery store.
Harding-davis was a young girl herself and she recalled seeing magazine pictures of Till after his murder.
“It horrified me. And when I watched George Floyd being killed on international television it brought that image back to my mind. It was just so hurtful, so ugly and so callous.
“I'm so grateful that there were 12 individuals on that jury who did use their common sense, who actually had the guts to bring in the right verdict.”
But she admits her relief is temporary.
“The world does not understand the pressure, and the many times fear, of simply being Black. It's not just what we think. It is what is.”
Germaine Ramsey, a racial justice advocate for Unifor Local 200 and a Ford worker, said he felt mixed emotions upon hearing the verdict.
“At this point it's hard to say how I feel as a Black man,” Ramsey said.
“This fight against racism is really coming to a head now and it's hard to celebrate a victory when there's been so much loss. The system still has not changed in our favour.”
The killing of Floyd was “one out of how many thousand” incidents of injustice against Black people, Ramsey added.
“It was witnessed on TV. Everybody had videos of it. I don't know if there was much way they could deny it,” he said.
“This is a chance to move forward but still ... there's no need for the violence that's perpetuated against mostly Black males,” he said. “So I'm hopeful but I'm still going to be careful.”
Ramsey, who is married to former Essex MP Tracey Ramsey, said he often fears for the safety of his two teenage sons.
“Our kids, we're really concerned with them being out. We had a heavy conversation with our boys about how to respond to the police if they were to pull them over because my son's an essential worker and he's on the streets every day for work.
“We know the police have a responsibility to the community. It's about communication and not about violence, which I don't know why it keeps coming to that,” Ramsey said.
“But it's very scary because these are the people who are supposed to protect us.
The world does not understand the pressure … of simply being Black.
“It's not the end. There's still lots of work to be done.”
The Chauvin jury agreed with prosecutors who argued that the officer broke faith with his police training and the badge he wore.
Several officers testified against him.
“Having worked with (police), I got an understanding of how their culture works and it was a big surprise to me for his fellow officers to go on the stand and testify against him,” Harding-davis said. “Because there is that blue wall (an informal code of silence where police refuse to testify against fellow officers).”
She said the murder and trial also led to an awakening in society and motivated “Black people and people of any colour and any persuasion who believe in truth and justice” to speak out.
“And I'm really, really satisfied at Derek Chauvin's conviction.”
Chauvin, who had been free on bail, was taken into custody after the verdict was read. He faces up to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced in about eight weeks.