A small girl with a heartwarming smile, and an unexplainable joy, excitement, and embrace for the entire universe—displayed in a few seconds of video amongst the protests and riots—made me smile and cry at the same time.
The video is of Gianna, the six-year-old daughter of George Floyd. She’s sitting on the shoulders of Stephen Jackson, a former NBA player and friend of George. Her voice had pride for her father, as she exclaimed, “Daddy changed the world.”
In a few seconds, a child sent a message to the entire nation, and world, that a change, a transformation is on the horizon. When we are going to utter “change,” we are going to say the name George Floyd in the same breath.
A six-year-old, who just lost her father, perhaps does not yet understand “death” and the enormity of the loss that has befallen upon her. At a tender age, she maybe does not have any ideas around the “change,” for which the nation is protesting.
The fire of justice ignited by her dad’s death—one that seeks to ensure that as she grows up and becomes an adult woman, she won’t ever face racism—may be beyond her beautiful little mind at the moment. But, when she has grown up, she is going to know.
She will one day ask for that video—the video of the unjust death of her father.
She will question, was justice served? Were the efforts for change in vain? At that moment, I pray America has an answer for her, because that is why the country is protesting—so that there is no one dying on the street, and so that there is no other child left without a parent because of the color of the skin. That is my prayer for her and the children growing up with her.
Let’s look at some of the changes in policies for consideration to bring in the transformation that we are aspiring for:
1. Qualified Immunity Law. This law makes it almost impossible to sue and hold police personnel accountable. Currently, 99 percent of police killings from 2013-2019 have not resulted in any charges for officers. Ending this law would mean consequences and understanding that no one is above the law.
2. The San Francisco District Attorney announced a resolution to not hire law enforcement officers with a history of misconduct for excessive force, racial bias, discrimination based on race, national origin, gender or sexual orientation, dishonesty related to the reporting, investigation or prosecution of a crime or misconduct of another officer.
3. Twenty-three states and Washington D.C. do not release any public records for law enforcement officials. If an officer gets fired for misconduct, then he/she can go easily to another department or state for work. New York is considering changes to make the information public.
4. Governor Evers of Wisconsin “called on the Republican-controlled Legislature to pass a Democratic-sponsored bill that would require law enforcement agencies to minimize the use of force and prioritize preserving life. He also called for local government leaders to join the call for change.”
5. New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced an “Excellence in Policing” initiative. The initiative will include: the expansion of the state’s use-of-force database; addition of police departments that don’t yet have access to the database by July 1, 2020, the launch of a pilot program in Paterson, Trenton, Atlantic City, and Millville to expand crisis intervention team training by partnering with mental health professionals, and establishing an incident response team to “serve a vital role in defusing tensions.” Grewal also requested that the Police Training Commission implement a statewide licensing program for all law enforcement.
6. Former President Barack Obama urged all mayors to review use of force policies during a virtual town hall.
7. Former Vice President Joe Biden has called for a federal ban on chokeholds.
8. On June 5th, making specific reference to events in Charlottesville in 2017, the United States Marine Corps banned the display of the Confederate Battle Flag at their installations.
9. The George Floyd Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act proposed in response to the protests has a goal to address and reduce the prevalence of police brutality.
10. California Governor Gavin Newsom called for new police crowd control procedures for the state, as well as the banning of a chokehold that starves the brain of oxygen.
11. The police chief of Minneapolis banned chokeholds in his department on June 5th.
12. The Los Angeles mayor announced $250 million in cuts to the proposed budget and to reallocate those dollars to communities of color. The L.A. Police Commission President announced that $100 million-$150 million of those cuts would come from the police department budget.
13. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer says the Kentucky city will seek an independent review of its police department amid protests.
14. Minnesota’s Human Rights Act announced it would investigate the Minneapolis Police Department.
15. National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell said the NFL admits that “we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest.”
16. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said that active-duty military troops should not be sent to control the wave of protests in American cities, at least for now.
There is a glimmer of hope in the above considerations. Possibly the protests may start to slow down in a while, but the movement for transformation has begun, and it has set its course to end policies for inequality, brutality, and oppression.
Thank you, Gianna, for honoring the change with your father, because you and children are the prayers and hope for this nation. You have said it better than the grown-ups, and the leaders of this nation.
Daddy did change the world, so that you and others can have a better one.