Column

Everyone Agrees the Killing of George Floyd Isn’t Up for Debate. What Happens Next Is.

The George Floyd video — if not the upheaval that followed — showed that agreement is possible, if also painful

Meghan Daum
GEN
Published in
8 min readJun 8, 2020

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Photo illustration. Sources: VIEW press/Getty Images, dowell/Getty Images

In the immediate aftermath of George Floyd’s murder on May 25, there was, for one brief and stinging moment, a feeling in the air that had been achingly absent for months: a feeling of consensus. Anyone who watched the video of ex–Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for close to nine minutes could see that the events shown on the video were not up for interpretation. Even before Chauvin was charged in Floyd’s death, it was clear what had happened. This was not an accident or an unintended consequence of authorized force. Chauvin had murdered Floyd in a bloodless act of cold blood.

So unequivocal were these events that it wasn’t just anti-racism activists and others on the left who were appalled, but also some of our farthest right-leaning politicians and pundits. Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro, known for championing President Trump, as well as being an all-around criminal justice hardliner, said on May 29 that there were “clear facts” that Chauvin should be charged with murder. Laura Ingraham, arguably the most noxiously Trump-aggrandizing Fox News personality, called Floyd’s death “outrageous,” as well as “infuriating and heartbreaking” (though she still managed to shoehorn in praise for the president’s response). Even Rush Limbaugh, despite later arguing rather ridiculously against the existence of white privilege (he’s a flat-earther on that score) said that Chauvin should be charged with murder. “Look, you people in law enforcement know I’m at the top of the list of people who support you and understand how hard your jobs are,” he said on his May 28 broadcast. “I still — given all of that, do not… I cannot find a way to explain that. I can’t find a way to justify it. I don’t care what the guy did.”

Within a few days, many parts of the nation had plunged into chaos. In Minneapolis especially, but also in cities like New York and Los Angeles, incidents of rioting and property destruction threatened to overshadow lawful protesting, especially on the news — with the massive overreaction…

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Meghan Daum
GEN
Writer for

Weekly blogger for Medium. Host of @TheUnspeakPod. Author of six books, including The Problem With Everything. www.theunspeakablepodcast.com www.meghandaum.com