Jessica Phillips How did you feel when you first learned of what happened to George Floyd on May 25, 2020? I immediately resented the type of power that has been given to police officers who misuse the power that they have been given and the fact that there seems to be no system in place to keep unruly officers in check. Mind you, I have several family members and friends who put their lives in danger daily as police officers, so my initial aggravation was not toward all police officers—only those who misuse their power. Did you view the video? If so, what emotions and thoughts did you have upon seeing the video? I did view the video. I consider myself to be a caring person, and as I mentioned before, I have family members that are officers, and I’ve had an opportunity to see them at work. And I’ve never seen anyone display such a lack of emotion. To kneel on another human being through the pleading—the begging of the victim, the cries of the crowd to stop—and show absolutely no emotion is a type of evil that I hope to never witness again. It would be one thing if the victim were being uncooperative, but for someone who is completely vulnerable and behaves that way is evil, and there is no other way I feel that could describe that. How did you feel when the Derek Chauvin verdict was announced? After learning that Chauvin had a pretty lengthy history of this type of behavior, I felt that there were several other people to blame other than him. For all of the people who knew of his behavior and did nothing—they are responsible. I also felt ashamed of my own reaction. I realized that I’ve been conditioned to expect that an officer who could kill another human being—another Black body—would get away with it. I was surprised that there was any justice at all. What actionable steps have you taken since the murder of George Floyd? I participated in many of the protests that were held in Minneapolis. Since that time, I’ve made sure to have the conversations with anyone who is willing to speak on what happened with Mr. Floyd and Chauvin. I’ve shared my reaction of expecting to see yet another cop get away with murder and then being shocked that something happened differently with my white colleagues. I’ve cried with other Black and white people and made myself open to continue those conversations. I’ve been interviewed in my restaurant with the local news stations to give my perspective on the tragedy. I let people know that I am willing to do my part to educate with love about the things that we should come together as a diverse community to resolve. I’ve talked with my children to make sure that they feel comfortable doing the same—with teachers, their friends and anyone that is also willing to listen.
Reflections: The Two-Year Anniversary of the Death of George Floyd