On May 25th, 2020, George Floyd was murdered. Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria said, “The officers knew what was happening — one intentionally caused it and the others failed to prevent it. This was murder — it wasn’t a lack of training…”
Officer Alex Kueng held George Floyd’s legs as fellow police officer Derek Chauvin placed his knee on Floyd’s neck and slowly killed him. As Floyd said, “I can’t breathe” and cried out for his dead mother, bystanders yelled at the police to stop. For eight minutes and 46 seconds, Kueng and two other police officers failed to intervene. It was only Kueng’s third day as a full police officer.
The US has a long history of racism and police brutality towards black people. George Floyd’s killing was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Black Lives Matter protests erupted across the country.
Officer Kueng, a black man, told his friends and family he was joining the Minneapolis police department to fix it from the inside. He believed that more black officers would make the police less racist.
Kueng’s childhood friend, Darrow Jones, didn’t buy it. Jones, who is also black, felt that the problems with police could not be fixed. He told the New York Times, “I just believe that the system needs to be completely wiped out and replaced. It’s the difference between reform and rebuilding.”
Kueng’s father is Nigerian, but he was raised by his white mother along with four adopted siblings who are all black. His mother said he wanted to bridge the gap between the police and the black community.
Derek Chauvin had been Kueng’s training officer. Chauvin has been charged with murder. Kueng and two other officers have been charged with assisting Chauvin. Kueng’s lawyer said that he had no choice but to follow his training officer’s commands.
Kueng’s sister, Radiance, said Floyd’s killing broke her heart. “I don’t care if it was his third day at work or not,” she said. “He knows right from wrong.”
Jones is disappointed in Kueng, but still stands by his friend. He says, “though I feel sad about what’s occurred, he still has my unwavering support. Because we grew up together, and I love him.”
Critics of the police have rallied behind a demand to “Defund the Police.” This means different things to different people. Some believe that if the inequality in society was fixed, police would not be necessary. They think that the large amounts of money spent on police should be used to provide people with more social workers, housing, jobs, and mental healthcare. Others believe that a reduced police force is necessary, but more training will not fix the problem. They think the police must be completely dismantled and rebuilt from the ground up.