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  • Writer's pictureLoraine Mponela

I Can't Breath

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man suspected of passing a counterfeit $20 bill, died in Minneapolis, Minnesota after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, pressed his knee to Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed face down in the street. Two other officers further restrained Floyd while a fourth prevented onlookers from intervening. During the final three minutes Floyd was motionless and had no pulse but officers made no attempt to revive him and Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd's neck even as arriving emergency medical technicians attempted to treat him.

Several bystanders took videos of the incident, which were widely circulated and broadcast along with security-camera footage from nearby businesses; two of the officer's body cams were recording but that footage has not been released. A criminal complaint later filed against Chauvin stated that Floyd repeatedly said he could not breathe while standing outside a police car, resisted getting in the car, and intentionally fell down; he went to the ground face down and, after Chauvin placed his knee on Floyd's neck, Floyd repeatedly said "I can't breathe", "Mama", and "please"

Two autopsies determined the manner of Floyd's death to be homicide. The Hennepin County medical examiner's autopsy found that Floyd died from cardiac arrest during application of "neck compression", also noting as significant conditions "arteriosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease; fentanyl intoxication; and recent methamphetamine use" A second autopsy, commissioned by Floyd's family, found that the "evidence is consistent with mechanical asphyxia as the cause" of death, with neck compression restricting blood flow to the brain, and back compression restricting breathing.

After Floyd's death, demonstrations and protests against use of excessive force by police officers and lack of police accountability were held across the United States.

Loraine Mponela

A lot of people ask why are we protesting here in the UK, What’s it got to do with what happened in the USA? My answer to that is why SHOULDN'T we be protesting, and it has EVERYTHING to do with us. I am a migrant and I am also a human being.

Black lives NEED to matter.

The black lives lost in the Mediterranean need to matter.

The black lives exploited in low or no pay need to matter.

The black lives locked up in immigration detention centres need to matter.

The black lives living in squalor need to matter.

The Black lives with no immigration status need to matter.

And they need to matter to EVERYONE.

Rosa parks said when she led the bus boycotts in Alabama. We are sick and tired.. of being sick and tired.

Years and years later we are STILL.. sick and tired of being sick and tired. But I’ll tell you this, our existence is resistance. The system wants us gone, everyday it tries, then it tries some more and tries some more.

But WE are not going anywhere. We are here to stay and we are here to FIGHT injustice. You will not lose anything by letting us live their lives as human beings. But you will lose a lot if you don’t, we are told how to protest. Be patient rely on the powers that be, the same powers who treat us like dirt. The same powers that have a boot on our necks.

Well we are the power!

And we are the protest!

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