“They’re killing me. I can’t breathe.”

by Sharisse Tracey | May 27, 2020 4:43 pm

Photo of George Floyd. Credit: Benjamin Crump.

In Trump’s great America, white pandemic protestors flood state capitols to be awed by the media and left alone by the police. At the same time African Americans are fighting not only to survive the corona virus, racism, poverty, discrimination, unemployment, inequality and disproportionate incarceration but to simply just live. To breathe.

While trying to wrap my head around the senseless murder of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed 25-year-old African American man was fatally shot while jogging. Mr. Arbery died after being pursued and confronted by two white residents, Travis McMicheal and his father Gregory of Glynn County, Georgia, attempting to make an unlawful citizen’s arrest while armed in a moving vehicle. The murder recently dominated the news cycle after a video surfaced of his February 2020 killing and went viral on the eve of what would have been his 26th birthday. 

My mind is still reeling upon learning about essential EMT worker Breonna Taylor, an African American woman who was killed in her Louisville home during a botched raid a week before a countrywide quarantine took effect. With Ms. Taylor’s family on my mind, images of body bags appear across my television screen in communities of color losing loved ones in record numbers to COVID-19. 

Only to remember the treatment of a middle aged African American man being thrown off the SEPTA bus in my own birthplace and City of Brotherly love, Philadelphia, for not wearing a mask. Juxtaposed with a nearby neighborhood of Hasidic Jewish people gathered by the hundreds, many unmasked for a funeral to bury a beloved member of their community who received a virtual slap on the wrist for their defiance.  And contrasted with deceased people of color being triple stacked in a makeshift mobile morgue in the various boroughs of New York where we are not allowed to say a proper goodbye to our loved ones.

And just when I’m able to catch my breath for a brief moment, social media footage takes over another white privileged American, Central Park Karen, otherwise known as Amy Cooper, for harassing another innocent black man because he had the audacity to request she leash her dog. In turn, she falsely accused him of attacking her. 

But before I could even get mad about Amy Cooper, I’m floored and left speechless by the inhumane and ruthless murder of George Floyd

“I’m scared for my brothers,” said my 13 year old daughter when the news broke and all the time I’m trying to lessen her fears. I’m just as scared for her brothers, my three African American sons.

Yesterday, another unarmed African American male was handcuffed and pinned down by three sworn-to-protect Minneapolis police officers. Mr. Floyd was held down on the street at his ankle, back and knee to the rear of his neck while the fourth officer made no attempt to assist him in his cries that he could not breath and instead focused on keeping the terrified onlookers at bay. Officer Thao easily identitied and seen in the forefront of the video, acting oblivious to his partner committing murder, is just as responsible for the senseless killing. 

The latest victim of murder by blue for being Black is 46-year-old, father, George Floyd.  The punishment for the alleged nonviolent forgery charge in the land of the free and home of the brave is now death by knee and aiding and abetting from judge, jury and executioners Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao and two other unnamed officers of the law.

Tell me, where are we free if we can’t be safe: jogging in our neighborhoods, relaxing in our homes, birdwatching, riding public transportation, driving in our cars, sitting in the park or being in our local grocery stores after 400 plus years of being in America? 

And in this same America, armed white protesters gather unmasked in large Live Free or Die protests spouting their God given rights, bearing weapons and in some cases spewing hate, with law enforcement looking on without word or confrontation. If ever there was a travesty of justice we, as African Americans, are living it, daily, hourly as we struggle to catch and keep our breath. 

Like Mr. Floyd said in some of his very last words, “They’re killing me. I can’t breathe.”

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