Vitae London looks at: The death of George Floyd, a year on…

It has been over a year since George Floyd was killed in police custody in the US, an event that was filmed on a smartphone and sparked protests worldwide.

The unarmed Black man, who was stopped by police in Minneapolis and died after being held down by a police officer For 9 minutes and 29 seconds, suffocating Floyd to the horror of onlookers and those that would watch the video via the global news. A year on since Flloyd’s death, which sparked the most extensive conversation of 2020 beyond the pandemic, we ask exactly how far the conversation went and precisely what changes have been made since. 

Firstly, its dually noted that the Minneapolis officer involved, Derek Chauvin, lost his job and was later found guilty of George Floyd's murder.

While Floyd's death led to lots of debate about racism and inequality, and there were numerous Black Lives Matter marches in countries calling for changes to policing, education and culture, with a gap between of 12-months it’s interesting to see how far the pledges of “change” have come. 

A stand-out moment during the event was the Instagram “blackout” trend, which saw numerous brands, influencers and users post-black screens in solidarity for BLM. While many saw unison with movement, others saw “performative” posts from brands with a history of racial bias.

A study from Vice’s Noisey recently analysed the pledge from three of the worlds largest music companies; WMG, Universal and Sony. Noisey reported that On June 3, 2020, Warner Music Group announced it would donate $100 million to “racial and social justice” organisations through a newly established “social justice fund.” A pledge from Sony Music Group closely followed this, and Universal Music Group announced they would donate $100 million and $25 million through similar funds of their own. A year on, a study has found that the trio hasn’t followed suit with the large amount promised, and Warner says their donation will span ten years - despite not disclosing this last year.

Picture courtesy of Vice: Noisey

In the US, calls from protests have urged the movement of “defunding the police”, a process that involves cutting the amount the government provides the police with and placing the funds towards mental health services and youth services. This has been met with a spit decision around the safety precautions around the defund. The mayor of New York, Bill De Blasio, took the first steps in defunding the NYPD and promised to give it to youth and social services.

Meanwhile, In Minneapolis, where Flloyd was murdered, the city council voted to defund the police but their mayor, Jacob Frey, stopped them from taking the more radical step of replacing the police department.

In Atlanta, the city's mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms,  limited police use of deadly force but did not defund the police. 

In Washington DC, a Black Lives Matter Plaza was renamed by Mayor Muriel Bowser on 5 June 2020. There is a sense of solidarity with a statue, but these actions often spark the conversation of “action vs performative action”. 

In the UK, which holds a small 5% population of Black people a similar initiative has taken place; In Manchester city centre, the council have a George Flloyd mural. In Bristol, the board has erected a statue of a BLM protestor, thus replacing the figure of a former slave owner. 

A school in Bristol named after Edward Colston - a former slave owner- has since been renamed, and it will now be called Montpelier High School.

According to the BBC, there are plans in towns and cities like Glasgow, Watford and Birmingham to make similar changes.

While changes to the curriculum are ago in western countries, racial bias still stands. According to government figures, for 1,000 white people in England and Wales, there are six stop and searches per year. For 1,000 black people, the figure is 54. Thus concluding, racial inequality still has a long way to go before the world offers equality for Black people. 

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