Alan Michnoff, center, protesting police brutality and the death of George Floyd in front of the North Hollywood police station last June. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

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Opinion: The legacy of George Floyd

Before George Floyd turned into a hashtag, he was somebody’s father.  “I want to touch the world,” Jonathan Veal recalls Floyd saying. In Floyd’s youth, he received an athletic scholarship and is remembered for his sense of humor, compassion and tall physique. After the birth of his daughter, Gianna, his religious faith heightened. Taking offenses…
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/miaguillen/" target="_self">Mia Guillen</a>

Mia Guillen

June 6, 2021

Before George Floyd turned into a hashtag, he was somebody’s father. 

“I want to touch the world,” Jonathan Veal recalls Floyd saying. In Floyd’s youth, he received an athletic scholarship and is remembered for his sense of humor, compassion and tall physique.

After the birth of his daughter, Gianna, his religious faith heightened. Taking offenses from his past to boost him forwards, he entered a Christian program that gave men rehabilitative and occupational services. His life was rich in community and shows us that the past is not a defining ceiling. 

After the anniversary of a Minneapolis murder that created an uprise described as the modern-day civil rights movement, lives have been tremendously impacted since that day. 

His death shook the world and reminded them of the ongoing systemic level of injustices. Banded together, it was a call for change so loud the American government for once, could not look away. In no way was systemic discrimination a new American concept, but it was brought to the forefront of many minds. 

George Floyd’s murder was not a “sacrifice” despite the sacrificial narratives created. After the manslaughter and murder charges placed on former officer Derek Chauvin, Nancy Pelosi thanked Floyd for the role he played.

But that was not justice.

Genuine justice would mean George Floyd continuing to lay his life ahead of him with his family.  It’s not a matter of how many Black men have to die before a justice system is fixed — when the soil is poisoned, it’s time to start over or incorporate systemic reform at the minimum.

Following the news of his death, people took the time to self-reflect and exempt themselves from subconscious biases. Social media has still been filled with infographics as a stepping stone in the work needed to be done. Social platforms have proven to be a convenient way for minors to spread useful information as well as petitions and more.

Things as simple as having difficult dinner table conversations have been astronomically beneficial since last year. It’s the discussions that are uncomfortable that are the most crucial to be had. Articulation in any format adds to the vitalization of change. Smaller habits like internal examination, conversations and petition signing invent a catalyst to being heard at the federal level.

With the collective unity of grassroots organizers, officials, activists, and Black-led organizations, the work towards a fair justice system has reached milestones thus far.

According to the ACLU, Black activists have placed an initiative for the November ballot urging the replacement of the corrupt Minneapolis Police Department. Additionally, the ACLU has worked with local Minnesota officials to pass a law to send mental health representatives to tranquilize situations as a means to prevent unnecessary police brutality.

Currently, Congress official Ayanna Pressley and Senator Ed Markey are reintroducing the Ending Qualified Immunity Act (S.492). By doing so, accountability will be met as police have killed 414 people thus far this year. The abolishment of qualified immunity is a crucial step in ending the violent cycle founded on the judicial system.

As said by Ayanna Pressley: “George Floyd’s murder has everything to do with white supremacy, the disparate criminalization of substance use disorders and America’s inability to see Black people’s humanity.”

In addition to the abolition of qualified immunity, defunding of the police is something that must occur to end the foundational trauma against Black communities. Changing the avenues where tax dollars and budgets are flowing is fundamental. Rather than billions of dollars annually towards policing, the emphasis should be housing, public education, rehabilitation and mental health resources. Contrary to certain beliefs, defunding of the police can only benefit communities by taking the time to invest in their general well-being.

As of May 25, Los Angeles has finalized the reallocation of the LAPD’s budget into community-based programs. However, Los Angeles has increased the LAPD’s budget for the upcoming year beginning July. Removing $89 million from the budget will now be placed into “anti-gang initiatives, universal income programs, homeless services, education, and jobs initiatives and more,” according to the LA Times.

In a similar sense, The BREATHE Act bill aims to defund the police to allow all communities to “finally breathe free.” The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (H.R 7120) addresses policing misconduct and accountability that is initiated to decrease rates of racial profiling, excessive force and no-knock warrants.

There’s no doubt that these acts, laws and defunding aren’t consequences of public pressure on the shoulders of officials. Persistency creates concrete change that is necessary for the prevention of further deaths at the hands of law enforcement.

In terms of systemic denial, Blackness itself has been a factor of criminality that fuels brutality. If it had not been for Darnella Frazier’s filming of Derek Chauvin kneeling on George’s neck, there’s an unsettling chance he would never have been charged.

In fact, according to the Washington Post, last summer’s protests were overwhelmingly peaceful and were often instigated by officers. Even in moments of harmoniously exercising the 1st amendment, the right to protest was impinged upon.

In Florida for instance, Governor Ron DeSantis signed anti-protest masked as anti-riot legislation to prevent protestors from getting out on bail until a judge appearance and increasing the offense to a second-degree felony with up to 15 years in prison.

Anti-protest proposals are the responses when the people spotlight the holes in our democracy. But it’s these proposals that incite unified perseverance.

Corporate America has also been raised to a higher standard as far as inclusivity and active anti-racist principles go. Prior, it was enough to be non-racist but now the caliber of acceptability has climbed.

Since Chauvin’s trial, over 64 people — primarily Black and Latino, have been killed by the police and not each one was headlined. It’s because there’s no verdict capable of bringing him back that budgets need to continue to be redistributed in order for the patterns of police brutality to end.

Until justice is real, may George Floyd rest in power.