A myriad of voices around the nation have expressed outrage and mourning for the death of George Floyd.
In a resolution, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission stated it “condemns” the “senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others”. It recognized its own “overwhelmingly bipartisan” creation as part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act in response to marches in Washington, D.C. for “racial justice” acknowledging the existence of “institutionalized racism.”
Beyond political and legal spheres, religious leaders have called the public to action. Bishop Thomas Olmsted from the Diocese of Phoenix stated “racism is a sin” and that he “unites his voice with the Black community, people of color, and all who are working for an end to mistreatment, discrimination, and injustice.” He said: “I pray for the repose of the soul of George Floyd and the consolation of his grieving family and friends.” He also quoted Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles who said, “We should not let it be said that George Floyd died for no reason.”
On May 25, 2020, George was arrested on a charge of passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store in Minneapolis, Minnesota. On arrival to the scene, police officers handcuffed George face down with his arm behind his back. One officer placed his knee against George’s neck and held it for at least eight minutes while another officer prevented onlookers from intervening. Before he passed away, George could be heard saying, “I can’t breathe” and to his deceased mother, “Mama…I’m through.”
A common thread of preserving human dignity infuses civil rights laws. As one court put it, the purpose of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is to “liberate the workplace from the demeaning influence of discrimination, and thereby to implement the goals of human dignity and economic equality in employment.”