A Statement from the CSSJ
The autopsy report says that George Floyd died of asphyxia due to “sustained pressure.” It was nearly nine minutes of asphyxiation by the knee of a police officer. In public view, George Floyd became the most recent casualty of America’s police force and the structural anti-black racism which shapes how it polices black bodies. In the eyes of the police officer, George Floyd, as a black man was disposable, non-human and could be treated any way. What occurred on the streets of Minneapolis on May 25, 2020 has happened many times before all over America. It has deep historical roots in our history when the black body could be legally enslaved, beaten, maimed, hunted down, and lynched. When black enslaved women were predatorily sexually abused and where, even in physical death, there was a cadaver trade in the corpses of the enslaved to prestigious medical schools. James Baldwin writing in 1962 about race in America cited the African American sorrow song, “O Mary, don’t you Weep, don’t you mourn,” noting that “God Gave Noah the rainbow sign, No more water, the fire next time.” That was 58 years ago and the violence continues. Anti-black racism as structural violence is common in the structural foundations of America. The killing of George Floyd is not only a time for mourning, anger and pain but also for making it known that anti-black racism, its structural forms and its everyday practices need to end. The CSSJ stands with the family of George Floyd and with the families and friends of all other black people who have died because of police violence. Over the next few weeks we have an obligation to host programs which will not only mourn these deaths but think together about what can be done to end this continued violence against black life. It is what justice demands of us.
Anthony Bogues, Shana Weinberg, Mayiah Gamble-Rivers & Catherine Van Amburgh