George Floyd Murder An Act Of White Supremacy

George Floyd’s Murder: An Act Of White Supremacy

The United States is built on a foundation of slavery and indigenous land theft. Racism is deep in the bones of this country. Where there is oppression, there is resistance: the ongoing Minneapolis rebellion against the white supremacist state and police murder has spilled out across the U.S. Deep Green Resistance stands in solidarity with principled resistance by any means necessary.

George Floyd’s Murder: An Act Of White Supremacy

By Jocelyn Crawley

One of the first things that came to my mind when I learned of George Floyd’s ruthless murder was a social theory, typically used to analyze the ideology that undergirds patriarchy: the thought of domination.

According to radical feminists such as Monique Wittig, the thought of domination involves the idea that the ruling class produces the ruling ideas.

These ideas come to support the ruling class’s dominance over all of the other members of society. Within this schema, the thought of domination entails assent to the ruling class (men) imposing limiting ideas on the servant class (women). One of these ideas is the notion that there are two categorically different sexes and that these distinctions entail sociological consequences.

One of the sociological consequences is the naturalization of the division of labor in the family, with this belief functioning as a catalyst for the cult of domesticity and male dominance of the public sphere.

As made plain by this brief summary, the thought of domination ensures that those in power (men) keep those who lack it (women) in a position of subservience and slavishness. Within this type of societal schema, women are vulnerable to and subjected to diverse forms of dehumanization, some of which include rape, domestic violence, pornography, and prostitution.

Dominance and dehumanization:

In addition to functioning as an accurate analysis of how patriarchy works, I believe the thought of domination is directly pertinent to the white supremacist act we witnessed when white police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck for seven minutes while he was lying face down on the road. The video footage of the incident shows Floyd groaning and repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe.” After moaning while lying motionless near the foot of the squad car and being transported into an ambulatory vehicle, Floyd died. The only sense that I can make of this inhumane behavior is that the perpetrators have adopted the dominant society’s values of venerating domination as a desirable way to exist in the world because it enables one to become the abuser rather than the victim of abuse. Within a world predicated on a thought of domination in which whites are the ruling class and can therefore impose their rules on all other racial groups, the abuse they subject black people to frequently goes unquestioned and unpunished.

Lack of consequences:

In recognition of the fact that being a member of a ruling class oftentimes precludes one from experiencing repercussions under the law, the outcomes of George Floyd’s murder should be carefully considered if we are to truly understand how white supremacy works. All four officers involved in the event were terminated. Yet the question that persists in the minds of many protestors is: “Why wasn’t Chauvin arrested?” This was the same question that I came to ask myself after I learned that Gregory McMichael, his son Travis McMichael, and William Bryan pursued Ahmaud Arbery in a truck while he was running through the neighborhood. Many are familiar with the footage displaying Ahmaud Arbery stumbling to the ground after being shot while Travis McMichael stood by with a shotgun.

Many are familiar with the horror and fear this murder generated in the black community as we realized, once again, men of color are subject to being shot by the police and arrogant white men within local communities. Many are familiar with the stories of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Tamir Rice. What many of us are not necessarily familiar with is the logic that makes this heinous, inhumane behavior acceptable. This is why I propose that members of radical communities engage the thought of domination as the ideology that undergirds white supremacy.

It is clear that the primary system of thought that fuels and justifies the type of incomprehensible violence, we see as a product of white supremacy, is the thought of domination.

Domination is defined as the exercise of control or influence over someone or something, or the state of being so controlled. In a contemporary world whose zeitgeist is guided by white supremacist, capitalist, patriarchy, domination is and must be an integral component of the cultures in which people are immersed.

Principles of mutuality, reciprocity, and cooperation may periodically flourish or temporarily gain traction in people’s minds and actions. However, making the regimes of white supremacy, capitalism, and patriarchy work requires that individuals recognize and respond to the realities created by those regimes. The reality that the regimes require is that an elite few exert extreme power over the masses, and that the masses respond to their own oppression by amassing as much agency and authority to themselves as possible while they grapple with the dehumanization and self-alienation engendered by the systems of oppression as distinct entities and a composite whole.

As one distinct component of the contemporary regime, white supremacy is predicated on the belief that white people are superior to those of all other races, especially blacks.

Based on this false notion of superiority, whites come to believe (whether consciously or unconsciously) that they have a right to dominate society. When I read about horrific stories such as those of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, I am convinced that the thought of domination is operative. I have no other explanation that would help me understand why a man would place his knee on another living, breathing human until he was no longer living and breathing. I have no other explanation that would help me understand why one individual would continue holding his knee on another living, breathing human as he begs for his life. When I learn that one white man holds his knee on a black man’s neck and continues doing so despite the latter repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe,” I am convinced the former has unequivocally embraced the logic of domination. In a world marked by this perverse logic, the murder of a black man is acceptable because whites are superior and any threat to their own safety-whether real or imagined-is more important than black life.

In recognizing the reality of white supremacy and the logic of domination that suffuses and energizes it, individuals who find injustice intolerable must begin to revisit whether the strategies of resistance that have been conceptualized and implemented at this point are working.

If they aren’t, we need to refocus our energies. At this point, I am seeing a wide range of social media campaigns as a strategy of resistance. I have also seen footage of a street protest. Recently, I became aware that several demonstrators gained access to a police precinct in Minneapolis and set some sections of it on fire. There are also now reports of vandalism, arson, and looting. While I do not doubt the importance and efficacy of the levels and extent of resistance seen thus far, I also see that white supremacy-manifested through police brutality-remains resilient in the face of resistance. For these reasons, I have two suggestions for the resistance movements that are unfolding strategically or organically.

First, the agitation against the state must increase. I noted that a tent has been placed outside the home of the attorney handling George Floyd’s case (Mike Freeman) and several protestors claim that they aren’t going anywhere until Freeman prosecutes and charges the officers involved. I think more space needs to be occupied so that state representatives become aware that protestors are not retreating into their private worlds while the public realm remains a sphere dominated by white supremacist ideologies and praxis.

Second, individuals across the country and world who oppose this state violence should join forces and make the resistance movement a more tight-knit process. I am aware that NYC-based Black lives Matter activists are heading to Minneapolis to protest the murder. This is the type of solidarity that we need to see in order to ensure that the authority and agency that results from mass resistance engenders a profound shift in cultural consciousness and state activity.

As always, we who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.

Jocelyn Crawley is a radical feminist who resides in Atlanta, Georgia. Her intense antagonism towards all forms of social injustice-including white supremacy-grows with each passing day. Her primary goal for 2020 is to connect with other radicals for the purpose of building community and organizing against oppression.
Featured image: Minnesota State Patrol on May 29th, by Lorie Shaull, CC Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic.

14 thoughts on “George Floyd’s Murder: An Act Of White Supremacy”

  1. I don’t at all agree that the main reason for police murder and other police brutality is racism or patriarchy. This is a CLASS issue. Cops are the army of the rich first and foremost, and the rich allow them to act with impunity for that reason. Any animal allowed to act with impunity will do bad things, including humans. Additionally, violent & aggressive people and people who want to exercise authority over others are drawn to being cops. And yes, racists are also drawn to being cops for some reason, but that’s only one factor. Unless all of these causes are fixed, cops will continue to murder and otherwise brutalize people.

  2. One aspect of the Floyd murder that only came to light late in the week is that Floyd and the cop who killed him knew each other. Both worked security at the same bar — which means they were bouncers.

    All bouncers also know the chokehold, which doesn’t really choke, but collapses the carotid artery, cutting off blood to the brain. And kneeling on someone’s neck is just a more brutal form of a chokehold. Chokehold users also know that the longer the hold is applied after the person loses consciousness, the more likely brain damage or death become — and that anything over 2 minutes is almost certainly fatal. The cop in this case continued kneeling on Floyd’s neck for well over 2 minutes of unconsciousness.

    All this tells me that the cop was using a bust for passing counterfeit money to settle a score, and that he knew that what he was doing would kill Floyd. That should kick the charge up to premeditated murder. And the other cops involved (at least the one clearly shown to be aware of what was happening to Floyd) should be charged with conspiracy to commit murder.

  3. @Mark Behrend
    All of these cops should be arrested & charged with murder or something related to it. But after the Rodney King incident in which the cops were found “not guilty” in state court before the feds brought some successful charges against them, I realized that cops who do stuff like this will get away with it most of the time. This entire society is rotten to the core, filled with cowards who want Officer Friendly to protect them and will therefore allow cops to do whatever they want, like killing unarmed Black people.

    Multiple instances of cops in different cities were shown on video illegitimately attacking peaceful protesters (and even arresting a CNN reporter and his crew) Saturday alone. This shows that cops know they can get away with this horrible behavior and don’t care if the world sees what they’re doing. This is a very deep problem that would take a long time to fix, but we’re going in the opposite direction instead with things like totally militarized police forces. I’d rather eliminate all cops and fend for myself.

  4. It was taxpayer-funded tyranny. Now we have our media being arrested and a predator drone was in Minnesota. Solidarity with all mankind, nature, and animals is how we bring peace, justice, and heal our world.

  5. @ Jeff “I don’t at all agree that the main reason for police murder and other police brutality is racism or patriarchy. This is a CLASS issue.” Oh, please. Just stop it. Joceyln is very clear in this piece that there are multiple systems of domination operative in the U.S. and its global empire, including white supremacy AND patriarchy AND capitalism. Waving away the first two and insisting only the third is the “real” issue is only possible if you are white and male, and this kind of stupid class reductionism is a way of exercising the very domination that Joceyln is writing about. Everyone who isn’t 1) rich or 2) brainwashed by the propaganda of the rich knows that that we live in a brutally exploitative capitalist system in which a small economic elite systematically funnels wealth from workers and the poor into their ever-expanding bank accounts, but guess what? Everyone who isn’t WHITE (or in thrall to white supremacist ideology) also knows that we also live in a racist system based on slavery and genocide in which white people (including white workers) often murder people of color with impunity, and that although unarmed whites also get killed by cops, cops kill and/or lock up POC (especially Black and Native people) at far higher rates because of white supremacy. Having to argue a basic point like this with a supposed radical in 2020 feels like the kind of gaslighting bullshit that abusers pull. It is as if, after the latest woman was raped a woman, a supposedly radical man said, “this has nothing to do with patriarchy, it’s really a class issue, because some men are also rape victims, and rich women are less vulnerable than poor women, and rape is really the fault of the rich and the capitalist class.” Bullshit! Re-read Jocelyn’s excellent piece, and let the words sink in for once. Wrap your mind around the reality that MULTIPLE forms of domination structure this society, not just the ones that personally oppress you as a presumably working class white man. If you refuse to do this, you are practicing a kind of domination yourself, and you need to grow the fuck up.

  6. Correction: that should have read “after the latest woman was raped by a man…” Sorry for the typo.

  7. The reality is that patriarchy and white supremacy are *also* class dynamics. In all of those institutions there is an oppressor class that exploits the labour of an oppressed class. Gerda Lerner demonstrated how patriarchy is an older institution than civilization, slavery/serfdom, and class stratification.

  8. @Joe
    Your fanatic rant shows that you are a dogmatic ideologue who is so blinded by your ideologies that you can’t see reality.

    I explicitly said that “racists are also drawn to being cops” and that classism is the “main” reason for this. I never discounted racism, but everything isn’t MAINLY about race. Racism and classism are totally different, though the rich use racism to divide people and to target non-white people.

    Do you know that there are more white poor people in the U.S. than Black ones? Why do you think that rich people want to dominate others, and why do you think they use cops to do it? Do you seriously think that it’s because of racism and not about money & power? Again, this isn’t to say that racism isn’t a factor, and I fully support the Black Lives Matter movement. But to say that domination by the ruling class is due to racism is ludicrous.

    So, “oh please” and “grow the fuck up” yourself.

  9. You completely missed the point of Jocelyn’s essay. She never said “domination by the ruling class is due to racism” as some blanket statement. Neither did I. You are putting words in people’s mouths. She was talking about the specifically racist act of domination involved in a white man choking out a black man’s life, or shooting him for the crime of jogging. You dismissed her argument by saying class was the main factor, pointing out that more whites are killed by cops. But that means nothing in a majority white country where blacks are killed by police at over twice the white rate. At what point would racism become the main factor for those black victims? Five times the white rate? Ten times? Even if the police murder rate was the same when you controlled for class, the higher black rate would reflect the higher black poverty rate caused by slavery, Jim Crow, and discrimination. How many black people would be alive right now if the black and white death rate from police murder were the same? Try going to one of their funerals and explaining to their families that class was the main factor, not racism. Maybe check in one the families of those killed by Dylann Roof as well. If you said both racism and capitalism were factors there would be no argument, but downplaying the first and saying the second is the real issue comes across as deflection and misses the point of the essay.

  10. @Joe
    You and Jocelyn don’t get is what the cops are and who they work for. The cops are the army of the rich, and their No. 1 job is to protect property and the people who own it. The cops are not the army of the KKK even though many cops are racist. The reason they get away with murdering unarmed Black people and doing all the other otherwise illegal stuff they do is that they’re allowed to act with impunity.

    You conflate the facts that this whole society is racist with thuggish police behavior that is targeted at Black people more often BECAUSE THEY HAVE A MUCH HIGHER RATE OF POVERTY. I agree that racist cops will target Black people just because they’re black, but overall the poor are the target. Black people are disproportionately poor.

    I agree that there are multiple causes of police attacks on Black people, that this is a racist society, and that many cops are racist and attack Blacks for that reason. But any conversation about illegitimate police behavior has to start with a class analysis, because cops are the army of the rich. This is a racist cause for sure, but focusing on racism because it’s your issue instead of being the major issue here results in an improper analysis.

  11. “But any conversation about illegitimate police behavior has to start with a class analysis, because cops are the army of the rich.”

    That’s where you’re wrong. You’re assuming that in a situation of multiple forms of fucked up oppression, you get to dictate which one people prioritize, because you know better than the black woman who wrote this article. This is especially true if you’re a white man, which I assume you are because of the stance you’re taking and because you didn’t correct me when I implied that earlier. Because if you are a white man, you are effectively saying that the only oppression that really matters here (domination by the rich) is the one that harms YOU personally. The ones that don’t harm you personally (domination by whites and by men) are less important. This comes across as arrogant and self-serving, now matter how you try to spin it.

  12. @Joe
    That’s not at all what I said. Again, your ideologies are blinding you from reality. There’s a huge difference between saying that something is a main cause of a problem and saying that it’s the only cause of the problem. You don’t seem to be able to hold more than one idea in your head.

    Regarding you assertion that I begin analysis of bad cop behavior with a class analysis because I’m white and don’t care about oppression of Black people: If you don’t agree that the highest priority of police is to protect property and those who own it (i.e., the rich and their property), then you don’t understand what police are. If you do agree with that, then failing to acknowledge that class is the overriding factor in these problems is illogical and again is caused by the same problem of your ideologies blinding you to reality.

    And BTW, your personal attacks on be are baseless. You don’t know me and are obviously ignorant of my total support for the Civil Rights Movement and for BLM, including things like having firecrackers thrown at me while watching MLK speak and walking out of school when Fred Hampton was murdered in his bed by the Chicago cops and the FBI. Your diatribes here reveal you as a fanatic, not a rational person who disagrees with me on the analysis of an issue.

    This is my final response to you on this. Rant on if you so choose, but I’m done.

  13. “You don’t seem to be able to hold more than one idea in your head.”

    Bullshit. This is the whole point of my repeated references to MULTIPLE oppressions. We live in a system of patriarchal racist human supremacist capitalism where police uphold all of those systems of domination at the same time. Ranking those systems of domination into more and less important is a luxury of those who are not oppressed by more than one of them at once. What you refuse to see is that as a white man, responding to a piece about racist domination by a black woman by insisting that the most important issue is class makes you part of the problem. Take a look in the mirror and realize you are being a jerk.

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