Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Tacoma, Washington, are not similar in their locations or types of cities. While Minneapolis is a major city and everyone has heard its name, Tacoma is not a large, major city. The Seattle Airport is named SeaTac for Seattle and Tacoma, but it is quite likely that many people have never heard of Tacoma. Yet both of these cities have been a place of similar recent deaths of black men who were in police custody when they passed away.
The two men who died were young African American men (one in his thirties and one in his forties) with each being the father of two children. They had families that loved them and who want justice for them. They were men who died before their time after being restrained by the police.
Manuel Ellis may not have been a totally innocent man as he supposedly told the police that he had warrants when he met up with them. George Floyd was not a person without a police record. They appeared to have hope for a brighter future before they were detained on suspicion of criminal behavior.
The death of Manuel Ellis took place on March 3, 2020. Had it not been for the outrage over the brutal death of George Floyd, few people might have known about the case of Manuel Ellis. The woman who later came forth with video of a portion of the encounter that Ellis had with the police said she did not know that he had died until it became known after the killing of George Floyd. She had been yelling to the police to stop hitting him before he was taken away.
Both men were pleading with the officers and saying that they could not breathe shortly before their lives ended. The “I Can’t Breathe” slogan has become a sign and chant used regularly by the peaceful protestors who are showing their outrage at the cruel treatment which black men too often face from the police.
Of course, most police officers are likely caring individuals who are in the job to help people, but there are bad apples out there who cannot cover their prejudice when it comes to black men and even to white people who might appear to be of the lower echelon of society. It will be difficult to bring about meaningful change, which should have occurred before now.
A white police officer is now accused of the murder of George Floyd because he held his knee against George Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes and caused his death. There were four officers at the scene. One of the other officers was also white with one being African American and one being Asian American. The four officers who were involved with Manuel Ellis were also two white men, one African American, and one Asian American. None of the officers stopped the mistreatment of the two black men although some may have tried.
The public outrage over the racism against black men, innocent or not, by the police and by regular citizens is understanding. These are cases of hatred, which is nothing new. Racism has been allowed to flourish for far too long.
Racism and hatred were the major cause of totally innocent Japanese Americans being unjustly incarcerated in camps during World War II. No one came to their aid (although there were a few who tried to help) when the government wanted to imprison a whole ethnic population. Asian Americans understand racism, although not to the degree as black people have suffered and continue to suffer. They want the racism to end just as the numerous white people who are now speaking out and joining the peaceful protests against the racism being shown to black people.
It is a shame that George Floyd, Manuel Ellis, and countless others had to die needlessly because of the racism that exists. Hopefully, their lives will not have been completely in vain as they are remembered for bringing light to the issue that racism needs to end. People should be given a fair, just, and equal chance in life no matter what the color of their skin may be.
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by Irene Mori