Groups condemn death of George Floyd, call for systemic change

Asian American organizations have issued statements condemning the May 25 death of George Floyd, 46, in Minneapolis, Minn. Floyd was arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 to pay at a store.

News outlets have reported that Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, kneeled on Floyd’s neck for several minutes. Floyd, who was handcuffed at the time, pleaded, “I can’t breathe.

Chauvin was initially charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison upgraded the charge against Chauvin to unintentional second-degree murder June 3. Chauvin and the other officers who were involved, Thomas Lane, J Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, have since been fired.

According to The Associated Press, “Ellison said warrants have been issued for their arrests. Chauvin was already in custody.”

Ellison has charged Lane, Kueng and Thao “with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter,” the AP reported.
Outlets have reported that Floyd, who was black, was unarmed.

In addition to condemning Thao, “an Asian American officer who, instead of using his authority to stop Chauvin, chose to enable and protect his partner,” the Japanese American Citizens League also expressed its solidarity in a statement with “the Black community in demanding justice for George Floyd and all Black lives.”

The JACL added that, “We must recognize that as violence has erupted from the roots of peaceful protest, it reflects the violence we as a nation have inflicted upon the Black community in our 400-year history as a colonized nation. … We continue to see the legacy of our traumatic history today in the inequities of COVID-19 as Black lives are disproportionately impacted by our failed health care system.”

The statement acknowledged how Japanese Americans have “played into the model minority myth, a divisive narrative that has simultaneously served to both benefit and victimize. The privileges we have gained from this dangerous trope have only further driven a wedge between API(s) and other communities of color. … It is time that we as a nation come to a reckoning with our history of oppression, and seek reparations for the legacy of slavery. To begin taking the necessary steps to right a grave wrong.”

The statement asserted, “If we cannot come to terms with and address the privileges we hold and why then we are part of the problem. Our inaction is causing harm, despite most of our best intentions to do good. We can have the intention to do anti-racist work while still committing racist acts.  

“It is easy and justified to be outraged by the scenes of the police taking the life of an unarmed, handcuffed man. We must also be enraged by the systems that have led to the deaths of so many Black men and women. We have a broken economic system that underpays people for honest work.

Hiring decisions continue to be clouded by prejudice. Housing discrimination persists because of unequal access to capital and the legacy of redlining.  If we do not feel the same outrage for the daily discrimination that continues to exist, outrage over George Floyd’s murder is hollow and meaningless.”

Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chair Rep. Judy Chu issued a statement demanding an investigation into and the punishment of “every officer who played a role in Mr. Floyd’s completely avoidable death — including those who watched it happen without even attempting to intercede.”

Chu added that “justice must also mean real, lasting change. Because the sad truth is George Floyd is not the first Black person to be killed because of the color of his skin. Freddie Gray, Eric Gardner, Michael Brown, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, and countless others before them died similarly unjustifiable deaths at the hands of police. But still nothing has changed.

And so true justice means ending a broken law enforcement and justice system where Black and Brown lives are disproportionately targeted and treated as disposable.

“For centuries, racial inequality in America has hurt Black and Brown communities. African Americans have been told where to live, work, and play. They’ve been surveilled, intimidated, and lynched. … And in almost every case, their skin color was the only evidence needed to justify lethal use of force and letting the guilty go free.

Chu went on to say that, “what we are seeing now as unheard and anguished Americans of all backgrounds fill the streets to demand justice. I support every American demanding justice and making their voice heard at this time. But violence is not the cure for violence, and I urge all protestors to avoid looting or the destruction of property. When righteous causes are usurped by looters and those seeking to inflict violence, it distracts from our purpose and does nothing to honor the memory of George Floyd.”

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