Stories on the long history of racism and police violence in the Midwest—and what to do about it
On Monday, Derek Chauvin, a police officer with the Minneapolis Police Department, restrained a man named George Floyd, pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck, and choked him to death. The video, which ricocheted around social media, is horrific: Chauvin stares into the camera. Floyd cries out in pain and fear. More MPD officers stand off to the side, watching him die.
George Floyd was Black, but you already knew that. America has long, intertwining traditions of racist public policy and violence against Black people. In response, organizers have taken to the streets in Minneapolis, Columbus, Ohio, and elsewhere, facing off with police in riot gear. Four days later, Chauvin was arrested and charged with manslaughter and third degree murder. The president, meanwhile, has threatened to bring in the National Guard to shoot protestors.
To understand the contemporary moment, it’s important to consider both the histories of racism, disinvestment, and violence in the region, and the rich precedent for community organizing and direct action. We hope that the following stories, selected from among dozens of similar pieces over nearly seven years of writing and reporting at Belt, help to contextualize this moment and envision ways to build a more just, equitable future—a future in which George Floyd would still be alive.
DEVELOPMENT AND INEQUALITY
POLICE VIOLENCE AND INCARCERATION
BLACK TRAUMA, BLACK JOY
*This story has been updated to reflect that Chauvin has now been arrested and charged.
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