George Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer who held his knee on the handcuffed black prisoner’s neck as he pleaded for air – “I can’t breathe” – has resulted in nationwide demonstrations for several days so far.
For me, it was yet again a revival of the emotions originally raised after the 1967 Detroit riots, ignited by an early morning police raid on an after-hours club that exploded into a deadly riot near my college, Wayne State University. The second time a riot against police actions was especially personal occurred when I was attending Graduate School in 1992, at USC’s Annenberg School for Communications. The campus was shut down as rioting exploded near campus after the police trial and acquittal for the beating of Rodney King. Each time the violence spiraled into flames across the country in a way that feels eerily similar. But one thing is different – this time the media have also been the targets of the police.
I hope the government in Minneapolis is able to hold the officers accountable this time for an abuse of force on Floyd and on protesters. And I hope a dialogue will also expand on why the media also became the target of the police at a riot scene. As a journalist in various stages of my career, I am appalled at this new development and I am ready to battle any attempts to further target journalists doing their job, especially in dangerous situations.