Along with many protesters around the country, Texas A&M students and College Station residents are protesting the events surrounding the death of George Floyd.
Floyd, a 46-year-old African American male, was pinned down with a knee to his neck by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25 and died soon after due to lack of oxygen, according to The New York Times and CNN. The three other officers present were Thomas Lane, J Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao.
A video of the incident shows Floyd laying face down with his hands cuffed behind his back as Chauvin presses his knee into Floyd’s neck. Floyd can be heard saying “I can’t breathe,” in the video multiple times and bystanders can be heard saying “Get off his neck.” The Guardian reported that Floyd and Chauvin were in this position for four minutes, after which Floyd lost consciousness. Chauvin’s knee remained on Floyd’s neck for four minutes following his loss of consciousness and Floyd was declared dead by the county medical examiner after he was moved to an ambulance without a pulse.
There has been a recent increase in protests regarding the mistreatment of minorities in the United States given the recent deaths of unarmed black men like Floyd this week and Ahmaud Arbery in February. Some A&M students and their supporters could be seen on the corner of George Bush Drive and Texas Avenue on May 29, protesting the killings. Passing cars in the intersection honked in support of the protestors.
Business senior Robin Ealy, an organizer of the protest, said that much of the opposition to Floyd’s killing has taken place on social media, but she wanted her disapproval to take place in a more visible manner.
“We just decided to come out and do it and we thought that we needed to do something because sitting around in our rooms and just tweeting isn’t getting anything done,” Ealy said. “We needed to act. We needed to call other people to action.”
Zoe Hughes, a College Station resident, said she was not initially planning to protest, but saw it taking place and did not want to be a bystander to students speaking out against prejudice.
“I was on my way home from work, I just saw them, and I happened to know a couple of them so I decided to join,” Hughes said. “I’ve also been tweeting about this and seeing it all over Twitter, and I feel like it’d be important to actually do something about it, so that’s why I’m here.”
It is important for everyone to speak about Floyd’s death and bring attention to the questions it raises, said industrial engineering senior Sonia Shah.
“I think they need to acknowledge what’s happening and try to listen to everybody and see what they demand for and all the people in this movement to see what they can do moving forward,” Shah said.
The four officers involved in the incident were fired a day after Floyd’s death. Chauvin has since been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
“Third-degree murder does not require an intent to kill, according to the Minnesota statute, only that the perpetrator caused someone’s death in a dangerous act ‘without regard for human life,’” the New York Times article states.
The College Station Police Department issued a statement around 6 p.m. May 29 stating their equal dedication to all members of the community.
“The dignity of all persons and the preservation of life is always our foremost priority and is consistent with the rigorous training and oath our officers take,” the statement read. “We are committed to serving all citizens equally, compassionately, and with the intent of creating unity within our community. We reject any behavior that abuses the trust bestowed upon our agency, and we are dedicated to protect and serve with excellence, integrity, and respect to all citizens without discrimination.”
Ealy encourages anyone who opposes the killing of Floyd to speak up against this avoidable death. She also said the next step is for local departments to recognize the potential for an incident like this in any city, even College Station.
“First of all, we shouldn’t be quiet, they shouldn’t be quiet. They shouldn’t sweep the issue under the rug,” Ealy said. “I think that A&M and the CSPD, even though this happened all the way in Minneapolis, Minnesota, need to be standing out, making a statement, making a stand, and showing that they don’t put up with this and we will not put up with this in this community.”
Editor’s Note: George Floyd attended Texas A&M University - Kingsville from 1995 to 1997.