Suza: Why did Floyd have to die?

Columnist Walter Suza urges everyone to do better. The work isn’t done. 

Walter Suza

Editor’s Note: This is the sixth of a collective series conducted by Walter Suza. 

He lay there. Face against the hard concrete. Gasping for air. Pleading for his life. 

As he lay there, the knee never left his neck. Until he left us for home.

I thought the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and countless other Black men and women would have done it. 

I was wrong. 

It took a video recording to show the barbaric decapitation of a Black man’s soul in the concrete jungle in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

George Floyd died and became the catalyst needed to allow more love to flow into the American heart.

Floyd had to die to show our country that what Black people have been saying for years is true. 

Floyd had to die for police departments to start to address the wrongs committed by their members.

Floyd had to die for the NFL to admit the protest by Black players was always about racial injustice and not the flag.

Floyd had to die for corporate America to speak against racism.

Floyd had to die for protesters of different races and ethnicities to march together for justice.

Unfortunately, it had to take a tragic event like that to bring a change of heart in people. 

I bet many parents wished they could have protected their children from witnessing the killing. However, there is social media and millions of children across the world saw the horror, an image that will stay imprinted in their minds, to come up in their sleep and interrupt their American dream.

To add salt to the wounds of the American heart, our children watched the police act with almost lethal force to thwart the protesters.

The children saw someone who looked like their grandpa shoved to the ground, hitting their head against the concrete, resulting in a pool of blood. 

They saw a woman thrown to the ground, students shot with Tasers, reporters struck with shields, protesters bleeding from getting hit with rubber bullets. 

There was also that reminder of Floyd pleading for his life — “I can’t breathe” — in protesters trying to catch their breath within clouds of tear gas and pepper spray.

Then we saw the disregard for the First Amendment through excessive use of force to silence the protesters. 

In the midst of all these protests, our children saw the Bible and probably wondered where is God in all this hurt?

Really, God, did Floyd really have to die? 

No! Floyd did not have to die.

Floyd would be alive if the United States addressed racism that marks Black men as guilty before a trial, making it OK for people to call the police on someone because they are Black.

Floyd would be alive if Congress passed the anti-lynching bill to make lynching a federal crime. 

Floyd would be alive if Congress and the Supreme Court revised “Qualified Immunity,” a law that has made it impossible to find justice for police brutality against Black people.

Qualified Immunity is from a 1967 Supreme Court ruling and protects government officials against lawsuits. That same year, police in Tampa, Florida, shot and killed an unarmed Black teen, Martin Chambers, which also led to protests and unrest for days. 

Floyd would be alive if the Justice Department and cities across the United States increased the use of Consent Decrees as a legal tool to make police departments better. 

Floyd would be alive if the collective ego diminished to realize that Black lives are white lives — and Black Lives Matter.  

Floyd would be alive if more young white people aspired to become champions of racial justice.

Sadly, George Floyd died. And we must do better!

The police are there to protect and serve. The police should not be above the law. Law enforcement must do the work to regain public trust

The police come from our families and communities. Therefore, rules and regulations alone will not end police brutality. There must be concerted effort to address the hard truth that racism is at play in some of these police killings. 

As said by the Rev. Al Sharpton when referring to racism against Black Americans: “Ever since 401 years ago, the reason we could never be who we wanted and dreamed of being is you kept your knee on our neck.” 

The deep racism that lingers across this nation manifesting as “The knee on the neck” will continue to cause loss of Black lives. Until it is stopped. 

Organizations such as the Me Too movement can be strong allies in the fight against racism and police brutality. 

We must do better! 

By working together to seek solutions to improve policing in our communities. As former Mayor Jerry Sanders of San Diego said: “We need to give our chiefs our support for approaches that are supported by analysis, evidence and fairness. In that same regard, when our chiefs want to adopt zero tolerance practices against neighborhood communities, we need to express our concern because there is no fairness when all individuals in an area are regarded as criminals.”

We must do better!

White Americans can free Black Americans — by helping to take the knee off Black people so they can access their unalienable rights.