“Please, I can’t breathe.”
By Adolfo Santos, from El Socialista, Argentina, Izquierda Socialista online paper, a section of the IWU-FI
This Monday 25th a video made in Minnesota, United States, went viral. It shows a white policeman squeezing the neck of a black man with his knee and the man desperately begging, “Please, I can’t breathe”. In the middle of the street, not caring about the camera that was filming him or people’s requests to let him go, the cop squeezed harder until George Floyd stopped moving.
The violent scene caused disgust and outrage. It was not a simple “incident” as the local police tried to justify in a statement, it was a brutal murder. “He looked like he was on drugs,” the cops tried to justify. Bullshit! George Floyd was working and unarmed. “He was a shelter worker in our community, he cared about people, he had an enormous heart,” said a neighbour. His “crime” was the colour of his skin. He was more a victim of the genocide practiced in the United States against the black population.
So the reaction was immediate. Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of the capital, Minneapolis, to demonstrate their repudiation of the brutal racist crime. The police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, causing the confrontations to escalate and several buildings and cars set on fire. After three days of protests, the city’s mayor, pressed by a non-stop mobilisation, had to acknowledge: “George Floyd deserves justice, his family deserves justice, the Black community deserves justice, and our city deserves justice” and called for the arrest of the officer involved.
“I can’t breathe.”
The words that Floyd repeated while being tortured for an “alleged crime” have become a cry from the Black population and are multiplied on the banners and T-shirts of the protesters. This murder is reminiscent of another similar case. In 2014, in New York City, Eric Garner, another unarmed Black man like George Floyd, was killed by a cop who put a key to his neck while Garner begged him, “I can’t breathe,” a phrase he repeated eleven times without being heard.
So “I can’t breathe” has become a rallying cry for activists protesting police brutality against African Americans. The strength of the rebellion against racism in the U.S. is a demonstration that this racist capitalist system that doesn’t care about the lives of Black people and the poor can no longer be tolerated. We join in the protests against the murderous Minnesota police, local authorities and the racist imperialist government of Donald Trump. Stop the killing of poor and Black communities. Justice for George Floyd!