NEW YORK – The horror of the umpteenth death of an African American at the hands of the police in a 2 year old video. It was May 10, 2019 when in Monroe, in that deep and racist Louisiana where African Americans have always suffered oppression, the 49-year-old Ronald Greene he was pursued for an unidentified traffic offense. Having gone off the road, he is pulled out of the car by officers already injured. Instead of just stopping him, they torture him for at least 15 minutes. First by immobilizing him with a teaser. Then literally beating him to death (we hear the voice of one of them say “let’s hope he doesn’t have AIDS”). Finally crushing his face on the asphalt for about 9 minutes: just in the way that a year later in Minneapolis the white policeman Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd, suspected of peddling a $ 20 bill in a tobacconist’s (for that death he was found guilty a month ago).
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Greene’s death did not make the news at the time. The official justification was “cardiac arrest”. An adjustment, compared to an early version where it was said that the man had died “from the injuries sustained in the road accident”. Of course, the whole affair has been the subject of a federal investigation for two years. But in the meantime one of the agents involved, Kory York, is back on duty after a short period of suspension. Another, Chris Hollingsworth, died in a car accident. We have known for some time about the existence of the video shot with the bodycam of one of the agents: but until now only the closest relatives – the mother and sister – together with the lawyers had been able to view it. Yesterday, however, somehow the Associated Press news agency got hold of it: and published it on its YouTube channel. Immediately sparking harsh reactions and protests, including that of the local governor, the Democrat John Bel Edwards, who he immediately described as “disturbing” the images.
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Actually atrocious. They show the man hit violently, as he begs the agents for mercy: “I’m afraid … I’m your brother … Don’t do this to me.” He is handcuffed already covered in blood. Then, for over 9 minutes, he is kept with his face pressed to the ground. “They murdered him, they gave him no escape,” repeats his mother. “Ronald was fine when they stopped him.” The police did not take well the diffusion of the video: “An obstacle to the investigation, it compromises the impartial response that we all want”, they say in an official message. But in the meantime the few frames released (the whole shot actually lasts 45 minutes) is already indignant America. All the more so after the choice, two days ago, not to indict the policemen responsible for the death of another African American, Andrew Brown, who was killed on 21 April. Images from the video of his death have also been released: and are, to say the least, controversial.
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Meanwhile, in a few days, May 25, will be the first anniversary of George Floyd’s death. Protests will be held in Minneapolis and many other cities. And Greene’s name will also be part of the sad, long list of names scanned in the square: those of the dead killed by the police awaiting justice.