The news headlines following George Floyd’s death were all too familiar: another Black citizen killed by a white police officer.
On May 25, 2020, Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Throughout the summer, Black Lives Matter protests erupted throughout the country, with calls to defund the police to help put a stop to police brutality.
Sitting at home watching the local news, scrolling on their Instagram feed or reading tweets on Twitter, many MSU students said they felt dejected and discouraged at the news, wherever they read it first.
Media and information junior Kenneth Franklin recalled the recent tragic news of Ahmaud Arbery upon first hearing Floyd’s tragedy.
“When you see this scene, another death, another Black man died, by a police officer, a racist cop, by kneeling on the knee (neck) for eight minutes and 45 seconds, close to 10 minutes, it’s heartbreaking,” Franklin, president of Black Student Alliance, said.
Similar to Franklin, political theory and constitutional democracy sophomore Joshua Dorcely also thought back to the tragedy of Arbery’s death that happened in late February 2020.
“So it was a lot of things happening,” Dorcely said. “It was a lot of things to process, and I was initially very shocked just because of again, the occurrence of these events all happening in the same time frame.”
Political science sophomore Malcom Charles also thinks back to the moment when he first viewed the gruesome video of Floyd's death.
“It was just hurt and bitterness,” Charles said. “But when I first saw the only video that was really there was just the cop kneeling on his neck, and I remember just pain. It was devastating witnessing that, witnessing a murder.”
Almost a year later, on March 29, Chauvin was found guilty on all three charges in connection to Floyd's death, according to BBC. The other three officers that were at the scene, Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao, were originally set for trial Aug. 23 but are now being pushed back to March 2022, according to Associated Press News. With Chauvin’s trial result, MSU students reacted with an even greater drive to push for equality in the Black community.
“There’s still much more work to be done, in all aspects within the police departments on a local level and national levels,” Charles said. “I feel like that was progress, but I think that again there is more work to be done. You can’t settle for the minimum.”
Many MSU students urge MSU administration to take further notice and a deeper understanding of what Black students experience on a daily basis and apply it regularly to how MSU administration represents the university.
“What MSU needs to do is to really acknowledge what’s going on and really take time to listen to these students and really just take in what they say and apply it to their everyday life on campus,” Franklin said. “We can make so much noise … but all they need to do is listen and take in what we gotta say.”
Nursing senior Adama Danpollo agrees that not only at MSU, but the country as whole, still has many societal changes that could be acted upon to cultivate a more equal culture for everyone.
“I think that people just need to open their minds and open their hearts to change,” Danpollo said. “I think that a lot of people are living in the past, and I think that a lot of people are just following stereotypes and not being able to change the way they’re thinking.”
Currently, MSU students still continue to grapple with the ongoing and unfortunate frequent tragedies of Black community members that have been in more tragic incidents with the police, but Dorcely said that centering the ongoing issues around the community will benefit the Black community.
“Having more emphasis placed on community is the most important aspect because when we have more communication, we feel more connected," Dorcely said. "The more power we feel we have to change our communities, the better. The more people feel like their voices are being heard, the better off society is overall.”
For Charles, he is confident and optimistic that the younger generation can be the positive change for the future of the Black community that has been needed for so long.
“I’m hopeful for our generation, the younger generation, people who are in their late high school years to college years,” Charles said. “I think that we're really the ones who are going to change the world for the better, and I think we’re the most open to change...I’m hopeful that as a society and as a generation that we’ll continue the activism in changing the world in the best way that we see fit, where everyone is equal.”
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