By Francesca Merlo
The anger felt by people in the United States, and throughout the entire world is being channelled into protests. People are gathering, marching, kneeling and praying worldwide for George Floyd, a 46 year-old African-American who was killed on 25 May by a white Minneapolis police officer.
"I can't breathe"
T-shirts and face masks recall Floyd’s cry of distress “I can’t breathe!”: his plea for help as officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck, a method which is not approved of by the police force, but which Chauvin used for almost 9 minutes. Chauvin has been charged with second degree murder in George Floyd's death.
Protesters insist: Black Lives Matter
Signs held high read “Black Lives Matter”. This phrase expresses the forgotten truth that gives a name to the global movement actively fighting to abolish the systemic racism that has contributed to the deaths of so many African Americans.
The United States has, in fact, seen the death of a large number of black people by police officers over the last ten years alone. The protests which began one day after George Floyd was killed are in rememberance of all of these victims, and in honour of all those who suffer racism on a daily basis.
Dismantlement of Minneapolis Police
As a consequence of George Floyd's death, a majority in the Minneapolis City Council pledged on Sunday to dismantle the Police Department. They promise to create a new system of public safety as they believe that reforming the existing Police Department is impossible.
The country’s Catholic Bishops have decried this “systemic racism”, calling for justice and warning that “racism is not a thing of the past”.
Bishop Shelton Fabre, Chairman of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism described the “righteous outrage and the righteous anger” that is being manifested due to the fact that "we continue to struggle with a loss of lives as a consequence of racism."
Every life is sacred
Pope Francis addressed the faithful during his General Audience of 3 June condemning “the sin of racism”. “We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life”, he said.
But any kind of social or cultural discrimination in basic personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, color, social conditions, language or religion, must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God’s design.
Gaudium et Spes ("The Church in the Modern World"), Vatican II, 1965, #29
Leading a liturgy in Rome on Saturday, American Cardinal Kevin Farrell noted that “especially for us American citizens, it is a source of great sadness to see how discrimination, prejudice and hatred on racial grounds still persist in our country.”