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  • Kevin Bowers

George Floyd's Last 8 Minutes

Psychopathic Cop Psychopathic Culture

If you zoom in on the expression on that cop's face, then pan to his strangely disarming posture with his casual but self conscious straight back and then note that his hands are firmly and awkwardly held in his pockets, a picture unfolds of a strange and psychopathic nonchalance.  This is his moment of pride and power.  This is his persona in its full expression.  There is a preening peacockery to this long horrible moment that has frozen itself onto the retina of our culture.  


And if you zoom out we see he is flanked by more cops, and they too have an unperturbed calmness to them.  They too kneel on and restrain George, while other cops  just stand and watch.  This cop’s sickly cockiness is emboldened by the surety that the flanking police officers will support him, and that the gathering crowd can shout and film, but will remain impotent, and even as the desperate and now common refrain of ‘I can't breathe’ comes from George, this cop and all those around him seem to think that this will pass as a day's work.


As we continue to zoom out from this moment, it is clear that this is not just a bad cop. This moment is not an aberration. It is a status quo. This was immediately confirmed by the brutality filmed everyday since.  The cops can’t seem to stop themselves from bludgeoning, driving through and pepper spraying the concerned citizenry they have pledged to protect.  


And as the camera pulls out into an establishing shot or an extreme wide,  we can start to see the concentric rings rippling out from these 8 minutes.


We can even see ourselves as bystanders sitting on the sidewalk  as billionaires with their hands in their pockets and their eyes fixed on some distant abstractions, kneel on the necks of the poor. We watch homes get foreclosed as bankers get bonuses. We watch the sick go bankrupt and die as insurance companies kneel on their necks with their hands in their pockets and turn record profits. 

We watch scientists scream from the streets that the planet can't breath, and our governments lean in with their knee on Standing Rock and the on the  Wet'Su’Weten,  and with their hands in our pockets, they subsidize pipelines and tar sands.


This moment is many moments.  We just watched 4 trillion U.S. Dollars slipped into the coffers of the richest people in America while the coronavirus killed over one hundred thousand people and left over 40 million unemployed.


This very same knee just leaned on the Bernie Sanders campaign. We watched the media,  the DNC, and the entire political establishment put its hands in its pockets and put its full weight on the throat of the democratic process and on the hopes and plans for an equitable, fair and sustainable future.


We watched a nation finally forge a policy that was suitable in size and substance for the climate crisis, and then we watched Nancy Pelosi, one of the most powerful people in the Democratic Party, scoff with a narcissistic sneer as she called the Green New Deal a ‘Green Dream or whatever they call it’.


We watched the Democrats, who claimed to be the resistance to the fascist orange clown and his posse, put their hands in their pockets and knees on the neck of the world, as they handed Trump the largest military budget increase of our lifetime.


This entire generation is lying in the streets with a knee to their necks. The posture is familiar.  This psychopathic nonchalance is everywhere. We have 10 years of oxygen, and our culture, our police, our politicians, our corporations, our economy, our media, and our history books, all have hands in pockets and eyes fixed on some awkward opaque and indistinct point in the darkness. 


So as we protest racism, and police brutality, and white supremacy, and all of the sick particulars that immediately and rightfully come to mind having watched George Floyd’s murder, we need to zoom out and recognize that that particular psycopathic cop is a stand in for our culture, our institutions, our world view, our economy and they all have their knees on our necks.


And that is one hell of a good reason to fight. 



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