George Floyd took a knee from the cops — but who killed him, really?

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Black Lives Matter rally in Brisbane, 6 June 2020 (Image by BW Donovan)


by contributing editor-at-large Tess Lawrence

HEY! I know of a White dude who can kill a black man in a mere 526 seconds using only his bare knee whilst keeping one hand in his pocket. How cool is that? Look Mom, no hands!

It’s even cooler that the White guy was a cop. No shit! This time he didn’t have to waste a bullet on the black guy as is the norm when it’s open season on bad will hunting for Black meat.

And it seems that it’s always open season for killing blacks and other coloured folks. In America. In Australia. Around the world.

It’s surprising that the nonchalant killer, Officer Derek Michael Chauvin wasn’t whistling Dixie while he murdered George Floyd in plein sight, despite knowing that the world was watching his killer moves in real time. Looked to me that he was flexing his power over big George. Looked to me like he was showing off.


Chauvin seemed to enjoy starring in his own snuff movie, disturbingly undisturbed by Floyd’s pleas that he couldn’t breathe, by the presence of his complicit colleagues and unmoved by protesting onlookers, as he slowly squeezed out Floyd’s life as easy as squeezing a tube of toothpaste, the black man’s red blood oozing onto the asphalt; a collage of evil and hell.


What was Chauvin’s left hand doing in that pocket? Did he have a hard on? Was this White man getting his rocks off killing a black man? Just asking. It happens.

We need to talk about the possibility of penis envy being a component of the racist canker that is endemic in the police killings of black men — and in wider spheres of human conflict, civil and war crimes.

                      I’m through...”

It is gut wrenching to hear George Floyd calling out to his late Mother — and chilling to witness Officer Chauvin pay no heed; show no mercy, at ease with his public performance, happy to show his unmasked face to the crowd, to the world.

Chauvin was so close to George Floyd’s face, that he surely could have caught possible droplets of Covid-19, but he seemed unconcerned about such health protocols, let alone any protocols about first responders preserving life or administering a duty of care.


Watching part of the horror scene, it occurred to me that Officer Derek Chauvin might well have inhaled George Floyd’s dying breath.

If that was the case and such an intimate grotesque theft took place, then part of George Floyd would forever be part of Chauvin’s molecular structure — the executioner stealing a last kiss of life from the man he mercilessly executed.

Sex, power and politics are competing heads upon the same Hydra. We are all children of colonisers and the colonised. We are trapped in a prison of our own making.

So many contemporary theatres of war involve borders drawn large by White hands. The Second World War never really ended. Tell me why it is that Africans – black-skinned and coloured people in particular – were singled out centuries ago to be slaves to conquerors, merchants, marauding empires, including those who buy and sell governments on the stock exchange.

Even the most superficial glance at today’s headlines and the Black Lives Matter movement, in all its dialects, manifested in global protest marches, are rooted in this ghastly unassailable truth, inextricably linked to the continuing enslavement of Blacks, other coloured humans, and those painted in the many hues of poverty, disenfranchised and dispossessed.

The master–servant relationship is one thing, the master–slave "relationship" quite another. Enslavement is before our very eyes, should we care to look; should we look at our food and energy sources, should be look at our clothes, should we care to speak the truth, should we care to feel shame at the nakedness of our lies.

Insofar as slavery of our Indigenous brothers and sisters is concerned, we have much in common with our White American cousins, and fellow members of the global colonial club.


Proudly wearing the White Australia armband of history favoured by some of our fundamentalist politicians, Prime Minister Scott Morrison again blasphemed against reality when discussing the death of George Floyd.

It was infuriating, offensive and embarrassing to hear such words uttered in our name. They were an insult to our First Nations family and an insult to our intelligence.

How could Morrison publicly declare such arrant nonsense and make the blatantly false statement that “there was no slavery in Australia”?

The blowback forced him to apologise, but that came across as fakery as well.

Like his American counterpart, President Donald Trump, Scott Morrison is a people denier. They just don’t get it.

We people get it. That’s why millions of us continue to participate in global protest marches.

In Australia it is not only the killing of George Floyd and other Black men, women and children for whom we walk our talk, but also to express solidarity by protesting about the hundreds of aboriginal deaths in police custody in recent decades, let alone since the shame of terra nullius.

In trying to reconcile personal angst about these injustices, and the cruel societal judicial racism embedded in our so-called democracies, whilst in lockdown and isolating in different states, my nephew Simon and I have collaborated on a poem I wrote after I marched in Melbourne, set to a melancholic instrumental of the spiritual Swing Low Sweet Chariot.

[WARNING: the name of a young Australian Aboriginal teenager who died in 1983 whilst in police custody is mentioned in the next paragraph. The poem arose out of the personal grief, guilt and shame I felt at observing the death of George Floyd, a familiar stranger.]

I was uplifted by my companions on this long, long march, the shared humanity of the peoples of the world and had thoughts of those who had walked these paths before, including John Pat (31 October 1966 – 28 September 1983); Walkley Award winner, Jan Mayman, who fearlessly placed the bloodied, broken, brutalised, butchered body of this young Aboriginal boy, who died in police custody, into the public domain — his blood inking our newspapers and our shameful pages of history. Morrison would do well to read Mayman’s explosive and heartbreaking articles.

A shoutout to one of the forgotten Black women of America’s history, Grace Wisher, who helped sew the Star Spangled Banner and who is not as well known as her White sister Betsy Ross.

I clearly owe a debt to various versions of Who Killed Cock Robin? including this one housed in the Library of Congress, to John Donne himself and the late Sister Joannes, a beloved mentor. 

The poem is by contributing editor-at-large Tess Lawrence (pictured above). Tess is accompanied by Simon Lawrence, a former copyboy for The Herald, in his first assigment for Independent Australia. (Simon was photographed by son Xavier Lawrence. For music lovers, the guitar is a Melbourne-made Cole Clark Fat Lady 2, lovingly crafted from bunya and blackwood, hence the distinctive sound.

(October 14, 1973 – May 25, 2020)

Who killed George Floyd ?
I, said America,
With my badge and knee,
I kill’d George Floyd.

Who else killed George Floyd?
!, said the World,
In the absence of Love,
I kill’d George Floyd.

Who saw him die?
I, said the People,
It was a sad day,
With my smart phone’s eye,
I saw him die.

Who caught his blood?
I, said the Internet,
with my little satellite dish,
I caught his blood.

Who’ll make the shroud?
We, said Grace Wisher and Betsy Ross
With a common thread and needle,
We’ll make the shroud.

Who’ll dig his grave?
I, said the White House,
I’ll dig his grave,
With my little tweet,
I’ll dig my grave too.

Who’ll bear the pall?
We, said Humanity,
We Children, Mothers and Fathers,
We’ll bear the pall.

Who’ll be the Parson?
I, said the Donald,
with my little book of hate,
I will be the fake parson

Who’ll sing a Psalm?
I, said Freedom,
I’ll sing it from the mountain top
I’ll sing a Psalm.

Who’ll carry him to the grave ?
I, said Sweet Chariot,
Coming for to carry him home,
I’ll carry him to the grave.

Who’ll be the clerk?
I, said the Jared,
If it’s not in the dark,
I’ll be the clerk.

Who'll be chief mourner?
I, said the Dove.
I mourn all acts of war,
I'll be chief mourner.

Who’ll carry the link ?
I, said the Heart,
I’ll fetch it in a minute,
I’ll carry the link.

Who will write the epitaph ?
I, said History
With my woke pen,
I will write his epitaph.

From whence will come the words, Momma ?
They come from her son’s slow dying...
“I can’t breathe!”
That’ s from whence will come the words.

Who’ll toll the bell ?
I, said Thee,
Because it tolls,
For You and Me.

Say my name.
George Floyd.

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