Early in the evening of May 25, 2020, a Minneapolis police officer put his knee on the neck of African American George Floyd and held it there for more than nine minutes.
When he lifted it, Floyd was dead.
The event was watched by several passers-by.
One of them took out her cell phone and recorded the scene. When she later released the video, it caused quite a stir.
Within a few days, millions of people in America and around the world saw it, and it became the subject of political controversy among the presidential candidates.
Few events in our time have affected the relationship between Blacks and whites in America more than this murder. Some go so far as to call for this day to be established as a national anniversary.
It is certainly not the first time a white police officer has, without justification, used deadly force against an African American, but this is the first time such an episode shocked the white public opinion to such a degree.
And it was shocking because this time there is real, tangible evidence of the crime.
There is the video, which leaves no doubt. Firstly, for the unnecessary violence used against Mr. Floyd and, secondly, for the barbaric way in which the police officer deprived the victim’s body of every trace of oxygen.
We whites are not accustomed to this kind of treatment by the police. Not that officers do not use violence against white people, and not that they always do so against Blacks. But certainly whites do not experience police brutality to the same extent as African Americans.
Thus, we are unfamiliar with such experiences, with the result that we are often unable to believe that they happen. And we still consider some police tactics necessary for law enforcement.
But that video changed everything.
There is no room for doubt. With that video, we came face to face with barbarism.
Of course, age-old mentalities and hundreds of years of practice do not change because of an event, no matter how tragic.
Racism in America has deep roots.
A recent University of Chicago poll found that 60% of Blacks see racism as a "very big problem" in America, while only 23% of whites agree.
Also, another Associated Press investigation found that many African Americans no longer trust the justice system compared to before, despite the fact that the police officer was convicted of murder.
Nevertheless, the impact of Floyd's assassination cannot be underestimated. It is deeply rooted in the American psyche as a major event and sensitized an important section of society and especially young people to the issue of racism.
So, the death of this man was not in vain.
It is the continuation of important events, each of which – such as the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. – contribute to the gradual shift of society towards the development of better relations between whites and Blacks.
It takes time, of course, but it will be achieved.