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Don’t let George Floyd be the latest victim of America’s War on Drugs

I knew it would come down to this. To the dehumanization of a man who, like all of us, was complicated, and flawed, and real. That’s why, when Derek Chauvin’s lawyers made it clear that they would blame George Floyd’s death on drugs, I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t sad. I was numb.

Because I’ve seen this story before. They said Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown had weed in their systems. They said Sandra Bland was off her meds. So, the defense painting George Floyd as an addict killed by drugs is normal. That’s what they do to Black victims of police violence. They demonize them. And drugs are often the tool they use to do it.

That’s what the war on drugs is about. It’s a war on Black people, and the drugs are just an excuse. Thank God George Floyd’s girlfriend took the stand and painted him as a human being—a man with a problem he was trying to solve. In fact, Courtney Ross said, both she and Floyd struggled with opioid addiction—an addiction that started with pain killers. And when Chauvin’s lawyer tried to press her on Floyd’s struggle with drugs, Ross told a simple truth.

“Addiction, in my opinion, is a lifelong struggle,” she said. “It’s not something that just kind of comes and goes.”

And she’s right. Even after nearly twenty-five years clean, I know that for myself.

But here’s something else I know—facts are stubborn things. The fact is Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for nine and a half minutes. The fact is Chauvin’s supervisor said they should have stopped restraining him long before he died. The fact is paramedics knew Floyd was dead when they arrived on the scene. Those are the facts, and if facts matter at all, Chauvin will get exactly what he deserves.
Photo: A protester writes ‘MPD doesn’t Protect Us’ By. Lorie Shaull

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