African Americans feel lingering trauma 1 year after police killing of Floyd
One year has passed since the murder of George Floyd, an African American man killed by white police, which sparked protests against racism and police violence across the US and other Western nations.
Video of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin fatally kneeling on the neck of a handcuffed Floyd for more than 9 minutes remain engraved in the psyches of millions of people, especially of Black people in the US.
“For me it’s been painful and traumatic,” Shelia Holden of Maryland told VOA. She recalled her disbelief watching Floyd’s final moments on social media in May 2020 and hearing him repeatedly tell Chauvin, “I can’t breathe.”
“Seeing one person take the life of another is something I had never seen,” the African American mother of two said.
During the three-week nationally televised trial of Chauvin, the video became a key piece of evidence in the criminal prosecution of the former police officer, who was found guilty last month of second-degree murder and manslaughter.
The images were captured by 17-year-old Darnella Frazier, who recorded the encounter with her cell phone camera, upending a nation already reeling during a pandemic.
During the trial, Frazier testified how she is still haunted by what happened. “When I look at George Floyd, I look at my dad, I look at my brothers because they are all Black,” Frazier recounted. “I look at how it could have been one of them.”
“It’s been heartbreaking seeing the video so many times over the last year,” said Bruce Brandon, a retired bus driver from the nation’s capital. Brandon said his family couldn’t stay home after seeing the Floyd video and joined the Black Lives Matter protests last year.
“Our family suffered a lot of anxiety but taking part in the racial justice demonstrations gave us an outlet to express our outrage over the amount of police brutality against African Americans.”
The George Floyd video reopened excruciating wounds for Black families who’ve also lost loved ones after deadly encounters with police.
“Every time another killing happens, it's trauma,” said Allissa Findley, whose 26-year-old brother, Botham Jean, was fatally shot in his apartment in 2018 after a white off-duty Dallas police officer said she mistakenly entered his apartment, thinking it was hers, and believed Jean to be a burglar.
A jury convicted Amber Guyger of murder and a judge sentenced her to 10 years in prison. Police body camera video captured the scene after the deadly encounter.
“After seeing what happened to Botham and to George Floyd, it's just traumatizing all over again,” Findley told Reuters.
Some believe the anguish inflicted by police brutality videos is compounded when Blacks are repeatedly asked to share their feelings about the incidents – including by the news media.
“That can add to the trauma because you're reliving seeing those images,” said Mary Frances Winters, president of the Winters Group, a diversity and inclusion consulting firm. “We recommend people of color affected by this more severely set boundaries.”