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George Floyd’s death raises an old question: ‘How long?’

By Leonard Pitts, Tribune Content Agency on

“I know you’re asking today, how long will it take?”

Thus spake Martin Luther King Jr. at the end of the Selma to Montgomery voting rights march. He went on to assure his soul-weary people that the moment of their deliverance was just a little ways down the road.

“However difficult the moment,” he said, “however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because truth crushed to Earth will rise again. How long? Not long, because no lie can live forever. How long? Not long ...”

And yet, 55 years later, here we are still asking the same thing. Oh Lord, how long?

Because 55 years later, we are trapped in a revolving-door nightmare where every exit leads back to more of the same — Oscar, John, Amadou, Atatiana, Tamir, Sean, Freddie, Eric, Sandra, Breonna, Michael, Philando and now, George Floyd, a litany of unarmed African Americans killed by police acting under color of authority.

How long can we see our sons and sisters murdered with impunity?

 

How long can we endure with impotent fury?

How long can we go on, exhausted to our bones?

How long can we be backstabbed by the American dream?

Minneapolis police were called on Floyd Monday for supposedly trying to pass a counterfeit bill. They said — surveillance video does not support this — he resisted arrest. In an excruciating bystander video, Officer Derek Chauvin is seen kneeling his full body weight on Floyd’s neck for many long minutes. “I can’t breathe,” moans Floyd, who is handcuffed. Still Chauvin kneels. “I’m about to die,” cries Floyd. Still Chauvin kneels. “Mama!” howls Floyd. Still Chauvin kneels. Floyd is unconscious. And yet even still, Chauvin kneels, Chauvin kneels, Chauvin kneels.

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