Posts Tagged ‘AMERICA’


January 22, 2021

Amanda Gorman: The story of the poet who stole the show at Biden’s inauguration Amanda: stole the show at Biden’s inauguration with her poem

By Nehru Odeh

She represents all that America stands for. A young black skinny girl, she had always dreamt of becoming the President of the United States only to find herself reciting her poem for one at 22. This, succinctly put, is the story of Amanda Gorman who made history on Wednesday 20 January by being the youngest poet ever to recite a poem at a presidential inauguration in the United States. And she did it so well, becoming the star of the moment. An intriguing thing about Gorman is that she had a speech impediment as a child – an affliction she shares with America’s new president. Still, the remarkable thing about Gorman’s performance is that she performed her poem, The Hill We Climb, to the admiration of dignitaries present and a watching global audience, calling for unity and togetherness in the United States. Her five-minute poem began: “When day comes, we ask ourselves: Where can we find light In this never-ending shade? The loss we carry, a sea we must wade. She went on to reference the storming of the Capitol earlier this month. “We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy,” she averred. “And this effort very nearly succeeded. But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.” Gorman delivered her piece which was inspired by the storming at Capitol Hill, with confidence and astonishing grace. A beautifully paced, well-judged poem for a special occasion, it will live long beyond the time and space of the moment. As a result of her sterling performance, the writer and performer, who became the country’s first National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017, followed in the footsteps of such famous names as Robert Frost, Maya Angelou, Miller Williams, Elizabeth Alexander and Richard Blanco. Yet none of her predecessors faced the challenge that Gorman did. She set out to write a poem that would inspire hope and foster a sense of collective purpose, at a moment when Americans are reeling from a deadly pandemic, political violence and partisan division. “I really wanted to use my words to be a point of unity and collaboration and togetherness,” Gorman was quoted as saying before the ceremony. “I think it’s about a new chapter in the United States, about the future, and doing that through the elegance and beauty of words.” “In my poem, I’m not going to in any way gloss over what we’ve seen over the past few weeks and, dare I say, the past few years. But what I really aspire to do in the poem is to be able to use my words to envision a way in which our country can still come together and can still heal,” she said. “It’s doing that in a way that is not erasing or neglecting the harsh truths I think America needs to reconcile with.” Asked how she felt when  she found out she had been chosen to read at Biden’s swearing-in ceremony Gorman said she “screamed and danced her head off.” She also said she felt “excitement, joy, honour and humility” when she was asked to take part, “and also at the same time terror”. Meanwhile world leaders, including Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton have taken to social media to praise the poet who described herself in the poem as “a skinny Black girl, descended from slaves and raised by a single mother,” who can dream of being president one day, “only to find herself reciting for one.” Michelle Obama took to Twitter to applaud her, writing, “With her strong and poignant words, [Gorman] reminds us of the power we each hold in upholding our democracy. Keep shining, Amanda! I can’t wait to see what you do next. 💕 #BlackGirlMagic” Hillary Clinton tweeted that Gorman had promised to run for president in 2036 and added: “I for one can’t wait.” “I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise! Brava Brava, @TheAmandaGorman! Maya Angelou is cheering—and so am I,” Oprah Winfrey tweeted. Illinois poet laureate Angela Jackson said the recitation was “so rich and just so filled with truth”. “I was stunned that she was so young and so wise,” Jackson told the Chicago Sun-Times. Singer Sheryl Crow tweeted: “If the future looks like inaugural poet laureate Amanda Gorman, we are in good shape. Wise and inspiring.” Gorman fell in love with poetry at a young age and distinguished herself quickly as a rising talent. Raised in Los Angeles, where her mother teaches middle school, she would write in journals at the playground. At 16, she was named the Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles. A few years later, when she was studying sociology at Harvard, she became the National Youth Poet Laureate, the first person to hold the position.

Amerikkka is under a Curse oooo!

September 14, 2020


September 11, 2020


August 25, 2020

GEORGE FLOYD OOO!-ROTIMI OGUNJOBI- -“Just Another Black Man Dead”-song/video

July 13, 2020


July 13, 2020


George Floyd killing: Dissimilarities between Nigerian and US laws (2) ON JUNE 24, 20204

By Aare Afe Babalola, SAN,

Last week, I discussed the incidence of the George Floyd killing and implications of the criminal charges levied against Chauvin and the other three police officers who were complicit in his murder. I equally discussed the Nigerian perspective to the criminal charges levied against Chauvin and the three accomplices who would, rightly, have been charged for the offences of conspiracy to commit murder and murder. This week, I will discuss further dissimilarities between the Nigerian and US laws on the offence of murder, with specific reference to evidential requirements to establish the commission of the murder against an accused person. Proof of murder in Nigeria Generally, the elements of crime in Nigeria are premised on two factors: the commission of the crime (actus reus) and a criminal intention to commit the crime (mens rea). Therefore, the existence of these two elements are germane in establishing a crime in Nigeria and more-often-than-not, the absence of one of these elements is capable of absolving an accused person either totally or a reduction of the charge for a lesser charge. For instance, if a person is charged for the commission of, say, robbery, the failure of the prosecution to establish that the accused person committed the offence (actus reus) is capable of completely absolving the accused from criminal liability. On the other hand, in certain offences, proof of the intention of an accused person to commit the crime is an important factor in determining whether the accused will be convicted of a principal offence or a lesser offence. Homicide is one of the crimes wherein establishing the intention of an accused person is germane to a conviction of either murder or manslaughter. Murder or manslaughter In proper perspective, if, for instance, Mr ABC sets out from his house in his car on his way to work on a Monday morning and suddenly, a young boy crosses the road and gets hit by Mr ABC’s car, it will be difficult for the prosecution to establish that Mr ABC intended to kill the young boy if the boy gets killed by Mr ABC’s car. In this instance, although there is the actual killing of the boy (actus reus), there is, however, the absence of an intention (mens rea) on the part of Mr ABC to kill the boy with his car. ALSO READ: George Floyd killing: Dissimilarities between Nigerian and US laws The case is, however, different if Mr ABC, in an attempt to escape being caught in the offence of armed robbery fires a weapon at a person who seeks to restrain him. In this scenario, Mr. ABC will not only be guilty of the offence of armed robbery but will equally be guilty for murder as clearly, there is an intention on the part of Mr ABC to maul down any resistance to his escape from the scene of the robbery. Section 316 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap. C39, LFN 2004 provides for what constitutes the offence of murder in Nigeria. It generally entails where the offender intends to cause the death of the person killed or intends to do to the person killed or to some other person some grievous harm, or if death is caused by means of an act done in the prosecution of an unlawful purpose which is likely to endanger human life, or if the offender intends to do grievous harm to some person for the purpose of facilitating the commission of an offence which is such that the offender may be arrested without a warrant, or for the purpose of facilitating the flight of an offender who has committed or attempted to commit any such offence; or if death is caused by administering any stupefying or overpowering things for either of the purposes last aforesaid; or if death is caused by wilfully stopping the breath of any person for either of such purposes. Section 319 mandatorily prescribes death sentence for any person convicted for the offence of murder in Nigeria. In Nigeria, the prosecution must establish three things to prove the offence of murder against an accused person. First, that the deceased died; second, that the death was caused by the accused; and third, that the accused intended to either kill the victim or grievously harm him. These conditions must be conjunctively established, i.e. where the prosecution fails to establish one of these conditions, the charge of murder will fail. Proof of murder in the US The 2019 Minnesota Statutes, which is the applicable law in the George Floyd killing prescribes what amounts to unintentional second-degree murder which former police officer Chauvin was charged for. Subdivision 2 of Section 609.195 of the 2019 Minnesota Statutes generally provides for what constitutes Unintentional Murder as: (i) causing the death of a human being without intent to effect the death of any person, while committing or attempting to commit a felony offence; (ii) causing the death of a human being without intent to effect the death of any person, while intentionally inflicting or attempting to inflict bodily harm upon the victim. A conviction for the offence of unintentional manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 40 years imprisonment. To establish first-degree murder under the Minnesota Law, the prosecution has to prove premeditation and intent on the part of the accused person. Even then, the accused would be sentenced to life imprisonment. For second-degree murder, all the prosecution has to prove is that the killing was unintentional in the course of committing a felony. According to Richard Frase, a criminal law professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, “second-degree felony murder does not require proof of intent to kill but rather proof of intent to assault someone. The only intent you have to show is an intent to cause bodily harm”. Likewise, the University of Minnesota Law Professor, Susanna Blumenthal, stated that “second-degree felony murder does not require proof of intent to kill. What the prosecutor would need to establish is that the officer caused death while committing or attempting to commit a felony offence, which has been charged in this case as assault in the third degree”. Interestingly, this is similar to the Nigerian position where all the prosecution need prove is an intention on the part of the accused person to commit grievous bodily harm which eventually resulted in the death of the victim. ALSO READ: Atlanta police chief resigns after officer kills black man It does not matter that the accused did not intend to kill the victim. Section 316(4) of the Criminal Code Act provides thus: ‘A person who unlawfully kills another under any of the following circumstances, that is to say… if the offender intends to do grievous harm to some person for the purpose of facilitating the commission of an offence which is such that the offender may be arrested without a warrant, or for the purpose of facilitating the flight of an offender who has committed or attempted to commit any such offence is guilty of murder … it is immaterial that the offender did not intend to cause death or did not know that death was likely to result’. Nevertheless, the absence of strict criminal prosecution laws in the United States perhaps accounts for the sparse rate of convictions for errant law enforcement agencies who have little or no regard for human life. Commenting on this situation, Minnesota Attorney General, Keith Ellison who added a second-degree murder to the charges against Chauvin, noted that getting a conviction against police officers is difficult, further adding that so far, there had been only one murder conviction in the state – against Mohamed Noor for the killing of Justine Damond. Mohamed Noor, a Somali-American Minneapolis Police Department officer, fatally shot Justine Damond on July 15, 2017. On March 20, 2018, Noor was charged with second-degree manslaughter and third-degree murder. Prosecutors later upgraded the charges against Noor to second-degree intentional murder. In April 2019, Noor was convicted of third-degree murder and manslaughter, but acquitted of intentional second-degree murder. In June 2019, Noor was sentenced to 12.5 years in prison. This is the first and only conviction of a police officer for murder in Minnesota. However, there had been other several incidences of police brutality which, though charged, ended in an acquittal of the police officers involved. One famous incidence is that of Rodney King. On March 3, 1991, King was beaten by Los Angeles Police Department, LAPD, officers after a high-speed chase during his arrest for drunk driving. Upon arrest, King was tasered, baton-beaten for more than 33 times, swarmed by about eight police officers, and by the time King was handcuffed, he was dragged on his abdomen to the side of the road to await the arrival of emergency medical rescue. Police brutality Due to police brutality, King reportedly suffered 11 skull fractures, permanent brain damage, broken bones and teeth, kidney failure and physical trauma. The four police officers involved in the grievous assault were charged with assault and use of excessive force. On the seventh day of jury deliberations, the jury acquitted all four officers of assault and use of excessive force despite being presented with video evidence of the assault! Sadly, after the George Floyd incidence, on June 12, 2020, another black American, Rayshard Brooks, fell victim of police brutality. He was shot and killed by an Atlanta Police Department officer, Garrett Rolfe, following a complaint about Brooks being asleep in a car blocking a fast-food store’s drive-through lane. Brooks had, before the shooting, wrested away a taser from one the two officers (Rolfe and Brosnan) involved and ran away. He turned and fired the taser in Rolfe’s direction without hitting him. In response, Rolfe shot his gun at Brooks three times, striking him twice in the back. Both officers stood over Brooks and only began medical assistance after two minutes. Rolfe was charged with eleven counts including “felony murder, five counts of aggravated assault, four police oath violations and damage to property”. Brosnan, on his part, was charged with aggravated assault and two counts of violation of oath. As I had earlier noted, all the police officers involved in both George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks killing would have been charged for the offence of murder in Nigeria. In any event, the rarity of convictions in the US, particularly for law enforcement officers, underscores the fact that much remains to be done by US legislators in curbing the spate of unjustified killings in the country. But until then, the world awaits the outcome of the George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks murder trial. Will those trials result in convictions for the murderous police officers, or should we expect a similar outcome as that of Rodney King? Time will tell. Vanguard All rights reserved.

Amerikkka-4th of July Without Freedom for Black People Is a Joke!

July 4, 2020

Fourth Of July Doesn’t Stand For Freedom Until There Is Justice For Black Americans ERIN CORBETT PHOTO: ANGELA WEISS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES.

Every year, people across the United States celebrate the founding of this country with backyard barbecues, a trip to the beach, plenty of beer, and of course, fireworks. But this year inherently feels different, and demands that we all reconsider the foundations that this holiday is built on. For most, 2020 has been spent indoors as we try to flatten the curve of the global coronavirus pandemic — a collective action many have taken to keep each other safer in the absence of a government-enforced plan to aggressively address the public health crisis. We’re also in the midst of an economic recession, leading the president to start reopening the economy. ADVERTISEMENT But as the pandemic continues and the economy declines, the swift and massive national uprising against systemic racism and police violence has redefined conversations about freedom in this country, especially as we approach arguably the most important election in recent history. This year is heavy, and with everything going on, it also provides us with an opportunity to reckon with what the Fourth of July really means. On July 4, 1776, the country’s 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence stating that “all men are created equal,” and yes at the time that really did only apply to white, property-owning men. Despite the fact that 244 years have passed since the United States was supposedly liberated from British rule, the systemic oppression of Black Americans continues to this day in the forms of housing, medical, job, and education discrimination, while also being disproportionately harmed by policing, the criminal justice system, and the prison industrial complex.  Over the last five weeks, following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, activists have taken collective action against racist policing and white supremacy writ large. Thousands have demanded the abolition of the police, and for the release of people incarcerated across the country. Racist statues, including of slave owners and Confederate monuments, have been toppled in more than 15 cities — sometimes by political leaders, and often by protesters.  But, the Southern Poverty Law Center estimates as of last year that there were still 1,747 monuments, schools, cities and counties, holidays, and U.S. military bases named after Confederate figures. The United States has never truly reconciled its racist history, while asserting itself as the freest nation on the planet. Black communities have historically been pillaged by racial capitalism, while being deprived of the resources and investments they need to thrive. The legacy of American slavery lives on both in these buildings and statues, and in the systems that define the fabric of our lives. ADVERTISEMENT In a country where Black people are still routinely killed by police with impunity, and where 2.3 million people are incarcerated in jails, prisons, and immigration detention centers — with Black people disproportionately affected — the Fourth of July has always been a whitewashed holiday that celebrates the illusion that we are all truly free. The backdrop to this year’s Independence Day is a centuries-long fight for liberation for Black people that thousands of people have taken to the streets over the last month. At the end of the day, our liberation is tied to one another.  This year, let us reckon with the fact that the Fourth of July has never really been about collective freedom or liberation, especially in a country that was founded on land stolen from Indigenous peoples. Independence Day may be different this year, especially for people who haven’t paid attention until recently to the racist systems on which this country is founded, and it should be. Let this year strip the American flags and exceptionalist narrative of this supposedly free country, and instead center the continued struggle for Black liberation.  WE CANT CELEBRATE 4TH OF JULY WITHOUT BLACK LIBERAT

George Floyd ooo!- Police Misconduct Complaints Rise!

July 3, 2020

MINNEAPOLIS Complaints skyrocket over police response to George Floyd protests Soren Stevenson, a recent University of Minnesota graduate student, was protesting following George Floyd’s death when he was hit in the left eye with a nonlethal projectile. — Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune By LIZ SAWYER AND LIBOR JANY , STAR TRIBUNE July 02, 2020 – 10:01 PM

On his fourth straight day of peaceful protest, Soren Stevenson linked arms with demonstrators gathered at the Interstate 35W on-ramp, staring down a phalanx of Minneapolis police in riot gear. Without warning or provocation, bystanders say, officers fired a series of flash bang grenades and tear gas to disperse the crowd. A nonlethal police projectile struck Stevenson in the face, exploding his left eye and leaving him partly blinded. Nearly a week after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis officers, the state’s largest police force struggled to restore order amid unrest in its smoldering city. Although police officials acknowledge that some innocent civilians were injured during days of protests and riots, they argue that the situation required force to maintain public safety and it was difficult to distinguish between peaceful protesters and those wishing to cause harm. But interviews with activists, elected officials and use-of-force experts suggest that police at times used extreme measures against the protesters, in violation of department policy, and missed several opportunities over the first few days to defuse tensions. Widely shared videos caught law enforcement officers indiscriminately spraying chemical irritants outside squad cars, at nonviolent groups and in the face of a journalist held at gunpoint, whose credential was visible. In other instances, officers shot marking rounds at civilians on their own property. One business owner even testified before the state Senate that he was hit with chemical irritant by police while guarding his family’s East Lake Street gas station from looters. “It seems hard to fathom that it was a mistake,” said Stevenson, 25, whose May 31 injury required several surgeries to reset facial bones and remove the eye. “We couldn’t have been more than 30 feet away and I wasn’t moving.” Minneapolis City Council security costs are debated and scrutinized Some Mpls. Black leaders speak out against council’s moves to defund police Since Floyd’s death, allegations of misconduct and excessive force have poured into the city’s Office of Police Conduct Review. The civilian review board is now investigating more than 400 such complaints against the MPD — an unprecedented number that has, in a matter of weeks, surpassed annual complaint totals of previous years, officials said. And those figures are expected to rise. While specifics of the complaints are not yet public, the Star Tribune has identified two recent cases that are under investigation. One complaint, filed internally, involves Facebook posts purportedly made by Officer David Peña, who used a fake name to mock protesters and encourage looting in a neighborhood that is home to much of the city’s East African population. Another is related to the actions of an unidentified Minneapolis police sergeant caught on camera pepper spraying a VICE news correspondent in the eyes even after he repeatedly identified himself as a member of the press. Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell, who acted as a special operations spokesman during the unrest, filed an internal complaint after being alerted to the incident by a state senator, who described it as “an egregious, gratuitous attack.” Schnell declined to comment further, saying “the e-mail speaks for itself.” “I believe the conduct to be wholly inappropriate and contrary to MPD policy,” Schnell wrote in an e-mail that was later shared with members of Gov. Tim Walz’s staff. When asked by a reporter last month about how he would rate his department’s response to the rioting, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said that tactical decisions were made based on “preservation of life.” In a more recent interview, he said that his department would take a hard look at the use of pepper spray and projectiles on protesters during mostly peaceful demonstrations. The chief has since presented a new policy that requires his authorization for any “crowd control weapons” to be used during a protest, at the behest of state officials. “That’s certainly a change from allowing supervision on the ground to make that call, because of the serious nature of that kind of level of less-lethal force,” Arradondo said. For the average Minneapolis resident, the complaint filing process can be a labyrinthine, said Elizer Darris, an organizer with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Minnesota. Those who do attempt it often lose confidence in a system that rarely results in discipline for the officers accused of wrongdoing, he said. “Faith in that particular process has eroded pretty dramatically,” said Darris. Last month, the ACLU filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of journalists who were threatened, assaulted and arrested while covering demonstrations in the wake of Floyd’s death. The organization has since turned its attention to protesters maimed at the hands of law enforcement. Several attorneys have already notified the city clerk’s office that lawsuits are pending regarding injuries inflicted by police during the unrest. Freelance journalist Linda Tirado filed a federal lawsuit against city and state law enforcement officers after losing her left eye to a police projectile while outside the Third Precinct in south Minneapolis. She is among at least two dozen people who suffered traumatic eye injuries during recent U.S. protests. So-called kinetic impact projectiles, including rubber bullets and 40-mm “less lethal” foam rounds, are commonly used in crowd-control situations. But MPD’s own use of force policy states that 40-mm rounds can cause grievous injury and should be reserved “for the incapacitation of an aggressive, noncompliant subject,” and “unless deadly force is justified,” officers should aim for large muscle groups in the lower extremities. The policy explicitly advises against targeting a person’s head and neck. The American Academy of Ophthalmology was so troubled by the extent of life-altering eye injuries last month that the medical group took a rare public-policy stance asking law enforcement to immediately cease use of rubber bullets as a form of crowd control. “Americans have the right to speak and congregate publicly and should be able to exercise that right without the fear of blindness,” physicians wrote in a statement. “You shouldn’t have to choose between your vision and your voice.” Critics also say that tear gas is increasingly being used as a crowd dispersal tool, part of the ongoing militarization of police forces around the country. According to best practices, the gas should only be deployed at the edge of demonstrations to minimize protesters’ exposure. But, in the days after Floyd’s death, social media lit up with photos and videos of officers firing canisters into the middle of large, densely packed crowds or spraying the gas at protesters from moving vehicles. Amid backlash, cities like Seattle and Philadelphia have temporarily stopped its use, while other places are mulling similar bans. In Minneapolis, the debate over the post-Floyd law enforcement response followed days of intense clashes between police and demonstrators. MPD supporters contend that police used force in response to an escalation of violence from some protesters — pointing out that officers were pelted with bricks and bottles on a nightly basis — and blame city leaders for allowing the riots to get out of control before intervening. There were numerous reports of officers taking gunfire in the field, though none were struck. Authorities fired their weapons at least twice during the unrest — once when a downtown motorist swerved into and nearly struck two police officers in a utility vehicle and again when a National Guardsman fired at a car that was driving toward a police blockade on Washington Avenue. Some of the criticism leveled at the MPD echoed complaints made after the 18-day occupation of the Fourth Precinct police station that followed the 2015 killing of Jamar Clark. A federal after-action report found numerous instances in which officers used “less-lethal and nonlethal weapons” on protesters during the occupation, in clear violation of department policies, and often failed to document their actions. Federal officials also recommended that the department “strengthen, train on, adhere to and enforce the use of force policy — especially as it relates to the use of chemical agents.” City Council Member Jeremiah Ellison, who represents the North Side, said he thinks that, had police done more to control the situation on the first night of unrest, things may not have snowballed as they did. “Obviously, by the third night the whole situation had grown into an unmitigated disaster,” said Ellison, among the most vocal proponents of dismantling the police force. “The tactics being used by protesters [on the first night] seemed mild enough that you could have successfully de-escalated the situation.” Liz Sawyer covers breaking news, crime and corrections for the Star Tribune. She previously wrote about suburban life in the south metro. 612-673-4648 bylizsawyer Libor Jany is the Minneapolis crime reporter for the Star Tribune. He joined the newspaper in 2013, after stints in newsrooms in Connecticut, New Jersey, California and Mississippi. He spent his first year working out of the paper’s Washington County bureau, focusing on transportation and education issues, before moving to the Dakota County team. 612-673-4064 StribJany More with this story Some on Minneapolis Charter Commission in no hurry to act on proposal to eliminate police Organizers cancel 2020 Aquatennial, citing COVID, George Floyd killing NEXT IN LOCAL Riot-damaged University Av. hopes to come back stronger North Shore resort Bluefin Bay sold to Silver Bay native Trial delayed for ‘White Rabbits’ militia leader allegedly behind Bloomington mosque bombing Minneapolis City Council security costs are debated and scrutinized Complaints skyrocketing in wake of Mpls. police response to Floyd protests MOST READ Complaints skyrocketing in wake of Mpls. police response to Floyd protests Some Mpls. Black leaders speak out against council’s moves to defund police Minneapolis City Council security costs are debated and scrutinized Minneapolis planning official resigns, before expected termination A look at more than 1,500 buildings damaged in Twin Cities after riots, looting SECTIONS Home Local Sports Business Opinion Variety Weather Politics Nation World Obituaries Sports Scores Health Highlights Sponsored content from Mayo Clinic MORE SECTIONS © 2020 Star Tribune Menu View desktop site

We Cant Celebrate 4th Of July Without Black Liberation!!!

July 3, 2020

Black officer (HALF-BLACK -CONFLICTED BY WHITE MOTHER),who detained George Floyd had pledged to fix police – Twin Cities

July 1, 2020

Black officer (HALF-BLACK-conflicted by white mother),who detained George Floyd had pledged to fix police
PUBLISHED: June 28, 2020 at 10:26 a.m. | UPDATED: June 28, 2020 at 10:37 a.m.
MINNEAPOLIS — There were two Black men at the scene of the police killing in Minneapolis last month that roiled the nation. One, George Floyd, was sprawled on the asphalt, with a white officer’s knee on his neck. The other Black man, Alex Kueng, was a rookie police officer who held his back as Floyd struggled to breathe.

Floyd, whose name has been painted on murals and scrawled on protest signs, has been laid to rest. Kueng, who faces charges of aiding and abetting in Floyd’s death, is out on bail, hounded at the supermarket by strangers and denounced by some family members.

Long before Kueng was arrested, he had wrestled with the issue of police abuse of Black people, joining the force in part to help protect people close to him from police aggression. He argued that diversity could force change in a Police Department long accused of racism.

J. Alexander Kueng (Courtesy of the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office)
He had seen one sibling arrested and treated poorly, in his view, by sheriff’s deputies. He had found himself defending his decision to join the police force, saying he thought it was the best way to fix a broken system. He had clashed with friends over whether public demonstrations could actually make things better.

“He said, ‘Don’t you think that that needs to be done from the inside?’” his mother, Joni Kueng, recalled him saying after he watched protesters block a highway years ago. “That’s part of the reason why he wanted to become a police officer — and a Black police officer on top of it — is to bridge that gap in the community, change the narrative between the officers and the Black community.”

As hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated against the police after Floyd’s killing on May 25, Kueng became part of a national debate over police violence toward Black people, a symbol of the very sort of policing he had long said he wanted to stop.

Derek Chauvin, the officer who placed his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes, has been most widely associated with the case. He faces charges of second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter; Kueng and two other former officers were charged with aiding and abetting the killing. At 26, Kueng was the youngest and least experienced officer at the scene, on only his third shift as a full officer.

The arrest of Kueng, whose mother is white and whose father was from Nigeria, has brought anguish to his friends and family. “It’s a gut punch,” Joni Kueng said. “Here you are, you’ve raised this child, you know who he is inside and out. We’re such a racially diverse family. To be wrapped up in a racially motivated incident like this is just unfathomable.”

Two of Alex Kueng’s siblings, Taylor and Radiance, both of whom are African American, called for the arrests of all four officers, including their brother. They joined protests in Minneapolis. In a Facebook Live video, Taylor Kueng, 21, appeared with the head of the local NAACP to speak of the injustice that befell Floyd, acknowledging being related to Alex Kueng but never mentioning his name.

Alex Kueng’s sister Radiance posted a video of Floyd’s final minutes on Facebook. “Just broke my heart,” she wrote. In an interview, she said that as a Black man, her brother should have intervened. She said she planned to change her last name in part because she did not want to be associated with her brother’s actions.

“I don’t care if it was his third day at work or not,” she said. “He knows right from wrong.”


Through his life, Alex Kueng straddled two worlds, Black and white.

Kueng, whose full name is J. Alexander Kueng (pronounced “king”), was raised by his mother, whom he lived with until last year. His father was absent.

As a child, Kueng sometimes asked for siblings. Joni Kueng, who lived in the Shingle Creek neighborhood in north Minneapolis, signed up with an African American adoption agency.

When Alex was 5, Joni Kueng brought home a baby boy who had been abandoned at a hospital. Alex soon asked for a sister; Radiance arrived when he was 11. Taylor and a younger brother came in 2009, when Alex was about 16.

Radiance Kueng, 21, said their adoptive mother did not talk about race. “Race was not really a topic in our household, unfortunately,” she said. “For her adopting as many Black kids as she did — I didn’t get that conversation from her. I feel like that should have been a conversation that was had.” Growing up, Alex Kueng and his family made repeated trips to Haiti, helping at an orphanage. Alex Kueng and his siblings took a break from school to volunteer there after the earthquake in 2010.

Joni Kueng, 56, likes to say that the Kuengs are a family of doers, not talkers.

“I had to stay out of the race conversations because I was the minority in the household,” Joni Kueng said in her first interview since her son’s arrest. She said that race was not an issue with her, but that she was conflicted. “It didn’t really matter, but it does matter to them because they are African American. And so they had to be able to have an outlet to tell their stories and their experience as well, especially having a white mom.”

Joni Kueng taught math at the schools her children went to, where the student body was often mostly Hmong, African American and Latino. Classmates described Alex Kueng as friends with everyone, a master of juggling a soccer ball and a defender against bullies. Photos portray him with a sly smile.

Darrow Jones said he first met Alex Kueng on the playground when he was 6. Jones was trying to finish his multiplication homework. Alex Kueng helped Jones and then invited him into a game of tag.

When Jones’ mother died in 2008, Joni Kueng took him in for as long as a month at a time.

By high school, Alex Kueng had found soccer, and soon that was all he wanted to do. He became captain of the soccer team; he wanted to turn pro. The quote next to his senior yearbook picture proclaimed, “We ignore failures and strive for success.”

Alex Kueng went to Monroe College in New Rochelle, New York, to play soccer and study business. But after surgery on both knees, soccer proved impossible. Alex Kueng quit. Back in Minneapolis, he enrolled in technical college and supported himself catching shoplifters at Macy’s.

About that time, he started talking about joining the police, Joni Kueng recalled. She said she was nervous, for his safety and also because of the troubled relationship between the Minneapolis police and residents.

Given his background, Alex Kueng thought he had the ability to bridge the gap between white and Black worlds, Jones said. He often did not see the same level of racism that friends felt. Jones, who is Black, recalled a road trip a few years ago to Utah with Alex Kueng, a white friend and Alex Kueng’s girlfriend, who is Hmong. Jones said he had to explain to Alex Kueng why people were staring at the group.

“Once we got to Utah, we walked into a store, and literally everybody’s eyes were on us,” recalled Jones, whose skin is darker than Alex Kueng’s. “I said, ‘Alex, that’s because you’re walking in here with a Black person. The reason they’re staring at us is because you’re here with me.’”

By February 2019, Alex Kueng had made up his mind: He signed up as a police cadet. Only a few months later, his sibling Taylor, a longtime supporter of Black Lives Matter who had volunteered as a counselor at a Black heritage camp and as a mentor to at-risk Black youths, had a confrontation with law enforcement.

Taylor Kueng and a friend saw local sheriff’s deputies questioning two men in a downtown Minneapolis shopping district about drinking in public. They intervened. Taylor Kueng used a cellphone to record video of the deputies putting the friend, in a striped summer dress, on the ground. “You’re hurting me!” the friend shouted.

As the confrontation continued, a deputy turned to Taylor Kueng and said, “Put your hands behind your back.” “For what?” Taylor Kueng asked several times. “Because,” said the deputy, threatening to use his Taser.

Taylor Kueng called home. Alex Kueng and their mother rushed to get bail and then to the jail. “Don’t worry, I got you,” Alex Kueng told his sibling, hugging Taylor, their mother recalled.

Alex Kueng reminded his sibling that those were sheriff’s deputies, not the city force he was joining, and criticized their behavior, his mother recalled.

After Taylor Kueng’s video went public, the city dropped the misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and obstructing the legal process. The sheriff’s office announced an official review of the arrests, which resulted in no discipline.


Alex Kueng’s choice to become a police officer caused a rift in his friendship with Jones.

“It was very clear where we stood on that,” said Jones, a Black Lives Matter supporter who protested on the streets after the deaths of Jamar Clark and Philando Castile at the hands of police. “Our fundamental disagreement around law enforcement is not that I believe cops are bad people. I just believe that the system needs to be completely wiped out and replaced. It’s the difference between reform and rebuilding.”

After Alex Kueng became a cadet, Jones went from seeing Alex Kueng twice a month to maybe three times a year. He said he did not even tell Alex Kueng when the police pursued him for nothing and then let him go.

In December, Alex Kueng graduated from the police academy. For most of his field training, Chauvin, with 19 years on the job, was his training officer.

At one point, Alex Kueng, upset, called his mother. He said he had done something during training that bothered a supervising officer, who reamed him out. Joni Kueng did not know if that supervisor was Chauvin.

Chauvin also extended Alex Kueng’s training period. He felt Alex Kueng was meeting too often with a fellow police trainee, Thomas Lane, when responding to calls, rather than handling the calls on his own, Joni Kueng said.

But on May 22, Alex Kueng officially became one of about 80 Black officers on a police force of almost 900. In recent years, the department, not as racially diverse as the city’s population, has tried to increase the number of officers of color, with limited success.

That evening, other officers held a small party at the Third Precinct station to celebrate Alex Kueng’s promotion. The next evening, he worked his first full shift as an officer, inside the station. On that Sunday, he worked the 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. patrol shift, his first on the streets.

On May 25, Alex Kueng’s third day on the job, Alex Kueng and Lane, now partnered up despite both being freshly minted rookies, were the first officers to answer a call of a counterfeit $20 bill being passed at a corner store. They found Floyd in a car outside.

After they failed to get Floyd into the back of a squad car, Chauvin and Tou Thao, another officer, showed up.

As Chauvin jammed his knee into the back of Floyd’s neck, Alex Kueng held down Floyd’s back, according to a probable cause statement filed by prosecutors.

Chauvin kept his knee there as Floyd repeated “I can’t breathe” and “mama” and “please.” Through the passing minutes, Alex Kueng did nothing to intervene, prosecutors say. After Floyd stopped moving, Alex Kueng checked Floyd’s pulse. “I couldn’t find one,” Alex Kueng told the other officers. Critics of the police said the fact that none of the junior officers stopped Chauvin showed that the system itself needed to be overhauled.

“How do you as an individual think that you’re going to be able to change that system, especially when you’re going in at a low level?” said Michelle Gross, president of Communities United Against Police Brutality in Minneapolis. “You’re not going to feel OK to say, ‘Stop, senior officer.’ The culture is such, that that kind of intervening would be greatly discouraged.”

All four officers have been fired. All four face 40 years in prison. Alex Kueng, who was released on bail on June 19, declined through his lawyer to be interviewed. He is set to appear in court Monday.

A day after Floyd’s death, Jones learned that Alex Kueng was one of the officers who had been present. Around midnight, Jones called Alex Kueng. They talked for 40 minutes — about what, Jones would not say — and they cried.

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“I’m feeling a lot of sadness and a lot of disappointment,” Jones said. “A lot of us believe he should have stepped in and should have done something.”

He added: “It’s really hard. Because I do have those feelings and I won’t say I don’t. But though I feel sad about what’s occurred, he still has my unwavering support. Because we grew up together, and I love him.”

Jones said he had gone to the protests but could not bring himself to join in.

Tags: George Floyd

New York Times
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