Table of Contents
On May 25, 2020, chilling footage of the brutal murder of a 46-year-old Black male, George Floyd, in Minneapolis started circulation on social media. Minneapolis received a report of a man who bought cigarettes using a counterfeit $20 bill. The police would arrive 17 minutes later. Events would escalate to a point where Derek Chauvin pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 30 seconds, leading to his death due to asphyxiation (Lin, 2022). Chauvin has since been sentenced for manslaughter, murder, and others. Floyd’s murder led to global debates and outrage on police brutality and systemic racism. The social effect related to the murder of George Floyd is the increasing interest and awareness of police brutality and systematic racism.
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Increased Racial Tensions
As the video spread through social media, comments started piling up. As expected, most of the words were racially charged. With controversial comments, hashtags such as #WhiteLivesMatter and #AllLivesMatter started trending. People are beginning to show their dissatisfaction with police brutality and racial inequality. Black Americans were subjected to racial tensions and violence similar to the 1950s-1960s Civil Rights Movement. These racial tensions led to increased poverty and a lack of jobs due to government policies on Black people (Bryant‐Davis et al., 2017). Subsequently, many African Americans trust law enforcement and the criminal justice system less. In George Floyd’s case, racial tensions were at their peak. Social media was used as a platform for activists and the general public to advertise their anger. The hashtag “#BlackLivesMatter” spread quickly on social media because people believed that racist police officers murdered Floyd without reason (Bolsover, 2020). This campaign has since been met with mixed responses from all races of America. However, the social effect sparked a topic everyone talks about in the United States.
Since most of the world knows about police brutality, this incident didn’t increase interest as much as it highlighted how racial inequality could lead to deadly situations. However, the case left people wanting more information on police brutality. Many Americans witnessed footage of George Floyd’s murder and couldn’t believe such an act of cruelty could happen in the 21st century. The public wanted to know why the officers didn’t help while pressing his neck against his chest for nine minutes and thirty seconds. They also wanted to know why they had to kill him after they put him in handcuffs. They found out the story was that George Floyd was selling counterfeit money. The public quickly lost interest after a few days because other cases of police brutality were occurring in America.
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Increased Awareness of Police Brutality
For the public and law enforcement to move on from this incident, people needed to be aware of how tragic it is when police officers kill people without reason. After discovering all the facts, people started to see he wasn’t a victim of racism, as some thought. This increased people’s awareness of police brutality and racial inequality, which led to more conversations on crime in America and justice issues between law enforcement and Black Americans (Waldron, 2020). Several research studies have reported that Americans are more likely to hear about police brutality than other countries (Graham et al., 2020), especially in the states where the Institute of Peace reported many police brutality cases. In most countries, discussion regarding police brutality is limited to urban conditions where significant incidents occur. Black Americans fear violence from corrupt cops who shoot unarmed suspects on sight (Noel, 2018). This fear is reasonable as recording numbers of police brutality cases throughout the past years occurred with Black Americans. The social effect of Floyd’s murder is the increased awareness of police brutality and crime in America, as well as racial inequality. It has also made the world take notice of how important it is to be aware of police brutality, especially when it’s an incident that involves a Black victim and law enforcement. This social effect has led people to think about the underlying causes of these issues and how we can effectively deal with these problems so that nothing of this magnitude happens again. Floyd’s death ignited many people who didn’t know about these issues, leading to a substantial social effect.
The social effect related to the murder of George Floyd is the increasing interest and awareness of police brutality and systematic racism. This attention came about when a video of his death went viral on social media and led to debates, arguments, and outrage on the topic of police brutality. The social effect became a case where African Americans had less trust in law enforcement and the criminal justice system. America has had a long history of systemic racism and police brutality towards certain races of people. In modern society, the United States is predominately White, which has led to police brutality being one of the main issues that cause racial tensions and violence. George Floyd’s death was tragic, especially since he was already handcuffed. Many Americans were outraged at George Floyd as soon as they heard about the incident because they believed it to be racially motivated. His death resulted from the country’s history of racism and law enforcement brutality toward Black people that occurred throughout the years.
- Bolsover, G. (2020). Black Lives Matter discourse on US social media during COVID: Polarised positions enacted in a new event. arXiv preprint arXiv:2009.03619.
- Bryant‐Davis, T., Adams, T., Alejandre, A., & Gray, A. A. (2017). The trauma lens of police violence against racial and ethnic minorities. Journal of Social Issues, 73(4), 852-871.
- Graham, A., Haner, M., Sloan, M. M., Cullen, F. T., Kulig, T. C., & Jonson, C. L. (2020). Race and worrying about police brutality: The hidden injuries of minority status in America. Victims & Offenders, 15(5), 549-573.
- Lin, C. (2022). Who is to blame? A discourse analytic comparison of the news reports on the killing of George Floyd in Mainland China and Taiwan. Chinese Language and Discourse.
- Noel, A. C. (2018). Killing African Americans: Police and vigilante violence as a racial control mechanism. Routledge.
- Waldron, I. R. (2020). The wounds that do not heal: Black expendability and the traumatizing aftereffects of anti-Black police violence. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal.