I have heard many people say “I can’t breathe.”
Sometimes the people are full of it, other times they are dying.
I have also heard the response line, “You’re talking fine.” I’ve heard EMS say it and I’ve heard police say it.
On May 25, 2020 , George Floyd said to officer Derek Chauvin, I can’t breathe.”
Officer Chauvin responded, “You’re talking fine.”
So he kept kneeling on George Floyd’s neck until George Floyd was quiet.
Today Derek Chauvin is facing a murder charge and George Floyd is dead. If I am on the jury, I am voting guilty.
But just sending Derek Chauvin to prison is not going to right our world.
Unfortunately, there are other Derek Chauvin’s out there. They are in police departments, they are in EMS, they are in our society. There may be few, but they are there. Listen to someone talk about people different from himself and ask yourself, what if that person was a cop, and if put in the same set of circumstances, would that person put his knee on a handcuffed man’s neck and tell him “You’re talking fine, “ when the person says they cannot breathe.
Maybe Derek Chauvin and those few others like him were born without empathy or maybe they suffered moral injury on the job. Either way, they do not belong on the street with us.
If you run a police department or an ambulance service or a business and you have people who work for you who fail to respect equal justice and fair treatment for all people, you have embers burning in your attic, and it may only be a matter of time before your department, your service, your business, your home, your community is in flames.
A person may be full of shit or they may actually be dying, but when they say, “I can’t breathe,” you pay attention.
And when a coworker displays racism or intolerance in front of you, you pay attention too.
You speak up. You say stop.
One of the officers spoke up, and questioned Officer Chauvin about possibly turning George Floyd, but Chauvin rebuffed him. The other officer didn’t say stop. He backed down.
We are all in this together and we have work to do.
We all have to pay attention. And can’t never again back down.