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George Floyd: Racial murder leads to burning of Minneapolis, destabilizes US

A horrifying, heart-wrenching video has gone viral — of a policeman pinning an unarmed black man down by his neck in front of a crowd until he dies.  “Please, please, I can’t breathe,” George Floyd pleaded a dozen times before dying… despite some people seeing his obvious difficulty and trying to ask the officers to let him breath at least.  He was suspected of passing a fake $20-bill. But contrary to police assertions, he did not resist arrest as videos later showed.  The officers were fired, and after intense public riots, they were finally charged recently.

Minneapolis has been burning for days as protests and rage ruled the city for the last few days, and spread to various United States cities.  Protesters were faced by large police forces, rubber bullets, tear gas and actual death from police action.  Reporters have been arrested without any explanation of why, with that of a CNN reporter of color, Omar Jimenez, in front of lines of policemen, captured in a video that has also gone viral.

Clearly, the Hong Kong police are far more restrained in far more trying circumstances, not harming people who were just selling cigarettes or with broken lights, yet the Western media have painted them as harming rights.

US President Donald Trump has called the rights protesters “thugs,” and said “then the looting starts, the shooting starts.”  He called on Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey as soft, and that if unable to handle the situation, Trump would bring in the National Guard.  Activists point out that while Trump has expressed sadness over the event, it was the first time he has done so over several similar racial incidents, and some say he is saying this only because it is close to the elections.  Some quarters assert that he has publicly profiled Muslims, Mexicans, blacks, Chinese, etc.  Later, he expressed support for the Minneapolis mayor in trying to control the riots.

Mayor Frey has brought in the police and the National Guard, and helped calm some of the public anger by expressing sympathy and the need for justice.  “Why is the man who  killed George Floyd not in jail?  George Floyd, the black community, the city deserves justice.”

Racism in America

Just last February, Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man, while jogging was stopped and shot three times with a shotgun by Travis McMichael who was with his dad. This was also caught on video.  They accused Arbery of stealing from a house under construction, whose owner denied he had ever reported items stolen from his house.  Prosecutors felt there was not enough basis for a case, for more than two months, and the father and son were only charged this last week amid public clamor.

“I can’t breathe” were eerily the same words of Eric Garner, who was choked dead in almost the same way as Floyd.  In 2014, Eric was alone when he was pinned down by four policemen on the floor and in an illegal arm lock around his head. He begged 10 times, and even when unconscious, police were in no hurry to get help for him.  This was for selling loose cigarettes; he also did not fight the police arresting him. The policemen were not charged.

Philando Castille was killed by a policeman in Minnesota, shot seven times while he was inside a car with his girlfriend and his four-year-old daughter. They were stopped for a broken tail light.  He told the policeman he had a licensed gun in the compartment but was asked to get his ID. He was then shot seven times at close range, after which the girlfriend who was videoing the events livestream, was told not to move, to get out of the car on her knees, handcuffed and put in a police car.  The policeman was acquitted.

This violence by police or authorities toward people of color who were not committing crime, or any significant crime, have cooperated and/or, represent no danger, has been a continual and growing problem.  The above are only a few of the dozens of incidents, many caught on videos, in the last few years. Some say not because there are more incidents, but just because more are being filmed today.

The brutality, lack of care and bureaucratic blocks to justice on racial issues are just one of the issues that are causing the decline of respect for the US.  This applies to both citizens of the US as well as the world, where nations are also pinned down even when not proven guilty, accused of crimes that the US defines and applies unilaterally.

Will the US allow rioters waving foreign flags and receiving clear massive foreign funding of protest groups with some even blocking and burning transport hubs, arteries, and bystanders who don’t support the protest?  While the US threatened to shoot the rioters and bring in the National Guard, China has not sent in its national forces after months of chaos in Hong Kong — both have an equal right to impose their laws in their territories even while these states or territories have certain autonomies.

Effect on the US, the world

The leadership, rules and stability of the US are still of prime importance in the world, America being still the greatest economic engine, and by far boasting of the most powerful and extensive military.  Descent into chaos will cause instability and hunger, crime in the majority of countries in the world.  Current circumstance seems to still point in that direction.  Poor management of Covid infection has led to unprecedented deaths, which could have been avoided, but now are blamed on China, even while President Trump encourages rallies in different states against quarantine policies of the states.  But we need to help.

A weakening president who wants to win at all costs is dangerous for the world, and the ratings show that Trump has been weakening and is now behind Joe Biden in a national contest.  An election win may be seen as requiring dramatic issues that raise nation-binding issues like race, nationalism, whipping up trade wars, tech wars, finance wars…  We may be edging toward them becoming a hot war or military one. Because for the US to really improve its economy for the greater number, it has to address not mainly the military, Wall Street, or issues of taxes for the large companies, but its real economy, its infra, an economic education, a work ethic, a sense of balance in its people and government instead of the all-out war approach of the Trump administration.  Otherwise, it becomes a game not to win, but to make the other side lose more.  China, in turn, needs to evolve with more relationship finesse, better communication, more shared interest, more personal relations between peoples.

Failing that, chances are the superpowers will not go into war directly.  The US has a tradition of using the media, preaching human rights and democracy issues that it violates even more itself, and then using proxy nations to go to war to demonstrate its military power — to destroy the political and economic base of the proxy nations.  The Philippines and the Asean should be careful not to be played like ignorant pawns, but join the dance in relations between countries for an evolving balance that overall will benefit everyone over time.  It is time to seek our own levers and balances.  The only way is to strengthen our selves based on realities for us to be influencers in the behavior of the superpowers and the development of world civilization.

Mario Ferdinand Pasion is a political analyst, director of economic alliance Phil-Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Strategic Studies and the chairman of Nat-Fil (Nationalist Filipinos Against Foreign Intervention).

New Worlds by IDSI (Integrated Development Studies Institute)  aims to present frameworks based on a balance of economic theory, historical realities, ground success in real business and communities and attempt for common good, culture and spirituality. We welcome logical feedback and possibly working together with compatible frameworks (idsicenter@gmail.com).

**Also published in:  https://www.manilatimes.net/2020/05/31/opinion/columnists/george-floyd-racial-murder-leads-to-burning-of-minneapolis-destabilizes-us/728376/

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