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An Atlanta police car burns as people protest against the death in Minneapolis police custody of African-American man George Floyd, near CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia, US May 29, 2020. [Reuters]

Derek Chauvin must be documented and immortalised as a devil incarnate. He must be properly and artistically drawn and acknowledged as such by everyone before he is discarded into the waste-bin as a shame to humanity. He is the one whose knee raced life out of George Floyd. 

The action of murdering Floyd could have passed for a typical bad cop misadventure and not an offshoot of racist agenda, but I have identified five mosaic characteristic features that draw a tapestry of systematic racism. One, it was perpetrated by a white officer in uniform on a man of Black descent in broad daylight.

Two, I have a feeling that Chauvin must have studied modern stage performance admixed as theatre or drama. He looked stoic, methodical and flashed his white face as though making a colourful pronouncement. If you revisit the clip, he fell short of taking a selfie to document his stage work. He relished each moment while his body language broadcast the question, “what will you do?”

Three, this chauvinist had practised as a police officer for almost two decades. If he were a young excited recruit, we would have questioned his grasp of professionalism and understanding of principles.

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Four, the animal had the mettle to shamelessly quote the 5th Amendment to his defence in lieu of an apology. Whatever the legal detail is in the amendment, the fact that it gives someone choices and discretion about how he should be handled makes him too arrogant.

Significant results

Finally, the system started by merely firing his accomplices and only Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter; not even first-degree murder! This, in my opinion, is systematic complicity. The response across the world is most commendable. Many Americans have risked more police brutality, risking Covid-19 infection to protest. This should not be in vain and should not stop without significant results.

Just as Chauvin sunk his knee until something happened, protests should continue until at least three things happen. One, there should be an elaborate demonstration that White House is sympathetic.

President Donald Trump should address mourners and show his sympathy and intermittently use catch-phrases like “my brothers and sisters”. He should make it clear that Chauvin does not speak for some unwritten social racial blueprint.

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He should then lead the country to think about reforms, form an all-inclusive reforms’ task force and define the terms of reference in public. Trump had given a non-committal tongue-in-cheek response. He condemned both Floyd’s death and subsequent protests after a guff, labelling the protesters thugs.

That was insensitive. Psychology or experience teaches clearly that at this point, one needs to demonstrate a sense of political correctness in its true meaning. You do not adjoin a negative and a positive in the same breath. That is like saying “sorry but you got the point” and it waters down probable good intention.

He should announce a process of reforming the police force and consider increasing the number of non-white police officers. Police training should include a topic on inter-racial relations. In addition, Race and Racism should be taught and examined at all levels of the educational system. By so doing, America shall begin to demonstrate the seriousness of the thriving misconceptions about blacks and whites. It is almost improbable that we can change the mindsets of adults who endorse racism but there is an opportunity to ensure that the next generation does not inherit such disgusting instincts.

Here, the curriculum will evoke Pushkin, Aesop, St. Augustine, Obama, Oprah and others who constitute the African Heritage alongside Red Indians, Chinese, Hispanic, other races, and white races. This will help young people to understand what it means to be a human and the consequences of discrimination. They will learn the dilemma that brings crises such as the African American identity crisis.

Finally, policies and laws should be revisited and tougher punishments proposed for any racial abuse. If current protests do not yield significant outcomes, protests reminiscent of the 20th century boycotts, sit-ins, and mass marches might become the order of the day.

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Mr Onyancha is a Culture and Behavioral Communication Expert. [email protected]

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