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COVID-Stricken Marc Lamont Hill: New Floyd Video Shows Familiar Ritual of Racist Police Terror

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In Minneapolis, newly released police body camera footage reveals devastating new details of George Floyd’s killing on Memorial Day, showing that officers pulled a gun, swore at George Floyd to “get out of the f—ing car,” as he wept and pleaded, “Please don’t shoot me.” The video also showed that medics did not appear to rush to Floyd’s aid after they arrived on the scene. We discuss the latest developments in the case that sparked an ongoing national uprising against racism and police violence, with Marc Lamont Hill, author of “Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond.” Lamont Hill also discusses how he has tested positive for COVID-19.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We begin today in Minneapolis, where newly released footage from police body cameras reveals devastating new details of George Floyd’s killing on Memorial Day and shows medics did not appear to rush to Floyd’s aid after they arrived.

A warning to our viewers and listeners: We’re about to describe scenes of police violence.

Reporters who were allowed to view the video at a courthouse Wednesday say that after the officers arrived on the scene and talked to a store clerk who had called 911, they then pointed a gun at Floyd within 36 seconds. When he was in his car, they banged on his car door and yelled at him to “get out of the f—ing car,” as he wept and repeatedly pleaded with them, “Please don’t shoot me.” Then, in footage not previously seen, the officers are shown dragging him to the ground as he’s handcuffed.

This is CNN’s Omar Jimenez describing Floyd’s final moments.

OMAR JIMENEZ: Part of what he pointed to in the motion, which we saw on camera, was that Lane asked if Floyd should be moved to his side, to which Chauvin responded, “No, he’s staying put where we’ve got him,” to which Lane says, “I’m just worried about excited delirium.” And it is in those moments, right after that, that Floyd is still pleading, “Please, please, please.” Right before that — it is listed in the transcript, this part — the “please”s seem to get weaker with each “please.” And then, eventually — this isn’t listed in the transcript — as I listed before, “Man, I can’t breathe.”

AMY GOODMAN: The attorney for former officer Thomas Lane requested the footage be released to the court as part of a motion to dismiss the charges against Lane. Until now, only the written transcripts were made public.

This comes as George Floyd’s family filed a lawsuit against the four former officers involved in his killing, and also against the city of Minneapolis, saying it failed to properly dismiss officers with records of abuse and/or properly train new ones. This is family attorney Benjamin Crump.

BENJAMIN CRUMP: We are going to have an important conversation, that continues based on this lawsuit, that documents what we have said all along. And that is, it was not just the knee of officer Derek Chauvin on George Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, but it was the knee of the entire Minneapolis Police Department on the neck of George Floyd, that killed him.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, to respond to these new developments in the case of George Floyd’s killing by police, that sparked a national uprising against racism and police violence, and much more, we’re joined by Marc Lamont Hill, professor of media studies and urban education at Temple University and the author of several books, including Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond. He’s also the host of a new podcast, launched this week, Coffee and Books.

Professor Marc Lamont Hill, welcome back to Democracy Now!, especially given yesterday, that you tweeted, “I’ve been fighting Covid-19 this week. It’s been tough but I’m managing and self-quarantining. Please wear masks. Please observe social distancing. Please stop sharing conspiracy theories and bad science.” Marc, let’s begin there, before we go to the latest video of Minneapolis. Thanks so much for joining us. Your diagnosis of COVID-19 and right now how you’re coping?

MARC LAMONT HILL: Thank you. Thank you for asking. I’m happy to say that things have been fairly manageable. It’s a very real thing. You know, fevers have been intense. Very tired. My body is very sore. Dizziness, weird skin pain, things like that. Some things, I anticipated; some things, I didn’t. Fortunately, you know, my breathing has been OK so far, not as bad as some people’s has been, and so I feel very fortunate. And I’m very fortunate that I was able to access a test and get results more quickly than many people have been able to.

So, I just encourage people to observe social distancing and, again, wear masks. And it’s not enough for me to wear my mask. You have to wear yours, too, in order to make sure that no one is endangered, as much as possible. Obviously, nothing is foolproof, but we have to do the best we can.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Marc Lamont Hill, if you can talk about — as you’re home sort of viewing this through this prism of COVID-19 right now and dealing with this, there is a surge of new information about what happened to George Perry Floyd in his last moments. We now see that some reporters have gotten to look at, though this video hasn’t been released, bodycam — police bodycam footage of those last minutes of Mr. Floyd, not him on the ground with the knee on his neck, but when he was in his own car, when the police first came up, and his terror when they came over to the car, cursing at him, “Get out of the f—ing car.” He could not figure out what they wanted. He kept asking. This is according to the reporters who saw this, like Omar Jimenez, who, by the way, was arrested by police in Minneapolis, a man of color, even though they clearly knew he was a CNN reporter. But he did get to view this video footage. And then the pleading that Omar described of George Floyd saying, even as he’s in his own car, “Please don’t shoot me. Please don’t shoot me.” Marc?

MARC LAMONT HILL: Yeah. You know, you mentioned the lens of COVID-19. In many ways, for the last four or five months, so many people in this country have felt a sense of unsafety, of unprotectedness, a sense that the state does not have an interest in making sure that the vulnerable are well taken care of. And that sense of terror that many Americans have felt, that sense of unpredictability and violence, is something that many Black people — men, women, girls, fems, trans, cis — have felt throughout all of our time in America.

What you saw on George Floyd’s face, or what’s been reported to see on George Floyd’s face, when he’s in that car is a sense of terror, of knowing that when the police show up, they’re not showing up to protect him. They’re not showing up to ensure that he’s OK. They’re not even showing up to figure out how a crime occurred. They’re simply coming to advance a very familiar ritual of criminalizing and brutalizing, and oftentimes killing, a Black body.

What we see in that sequence is terrifying. It’s disgusting and it’s disturbing that George Floyd, the moment the police show up, knows that there’s a problem but can’t get answers. And like many Black people have experienced, when you ask a police officer, “Why am I here? You know, why am I being stopped? What’s the problem?” that only enrages them further and leads to this death sequence that George Floyd tragically had to undergo. It’s disturbing, and I have no desire to see that footage, but America needs to know that it happened.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Marc, can you also respond to the financial damages that Benjamin Crump, the attorney for George Floyd’s family, have proposed? He said that the — although they have not disclosed the sum, Crump has said that he hopes to, quote, “set a precedent that makes it financially prohibitive for police to wrongfully kill marginalized people.” Could you respond to that to that? And what effect do you think financial settlements could have as a disincentive for the police to exercise this kind of violence?

MARC LAMONT HILL: You know, I support Attorney Crump’s efforts to demand some sort of cash settlement from the state, because the state killed George Floyd. That’s indisputable. I’m not sure that long-term, though, that will be the ultimate solution. Absolutely, within a white supremacist, capitalistic empire, putting a rock in the levers of capital can always pause things and make the state respond differently. The state responds to its financial and economic interests, to be sure. But this is a deeper issue.

In the moment that the police officer is faced with a Black person, irrational white supremacist fears about Black people emerge. And I’m not sure that a financial logic can stop that. I’m not sure that qualified immunity can stop that. Although we need all of those things, I’m not sure that that’s enough. Ultimately, we have to understand that as long as there is policing in this country, we are going to have people who are policed and criminalized in ways that reflect white supremacy, that reflect sexism, that reflect transphobia.

And so, ultimately, we have to dismantle and abolish policing. But in the meantime, these types of reforms could be helpful. I am not against reforms that don’t undermine abolition. And I think that if we can place pressure on the state financially, if we can place pressure on individual officers financially, as a means of getting us somewhere, I’m all about that. But we can’t confuse ourselves into believing that a financial penalty, that an economic sort of sanction, is going to stop police officers from killing the vulnerable, because, in many ways, that is part and parcel of what American policing is and always has been.

AMY GOODMAN: Marc, we’re going to break and then come back to our discussion and go down to Louisville to talk about what happened this week outside the state attorney general’s house, 87 protesters arrested as they demanded that the officers involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor be arrested and prosecuted. Marc Lamont Hill is professor of media studies and urban education at Temple University, author of several books, including Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond. Stay with us.

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