George Floyd Survived The Coronavirus. Then The Police Killed Him.

Alanna Vagianos
People gathered in the middle of the street at the site of George Floyd's death to listen to audio from Floyd's memorial service on June 4, 2020, in south Minneapolis.

At the beginning of April, George Floyd contracted the coronavirus. It’s unclear how severe his case was and if he struggled to recuperate, but he did recover. He survived one possibly fatal threat, only to succumb to another: the Minneapolis police. 

Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who leaves behind three children, was killed after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. He had recently lost his job at a restaurant due to the COVID-19 outbreak and was accused of using a counterfeit bill to buy cigarettes when a store clerk called the cops.

The medical examiner, who deemed Floyd’s death a homicide “caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression,” confirmed in his autopsy this week that Floyd had tested positive for COVID-19. Although the coronavirus was present in Floyd’s system, the report stated, it does not necessarily mean he was contagious at the time he died, and the virus didn’t have an impact on his death.

But it does illustrate a sad, glaring truth: the Black community is facing a multitude of fatal threats. Some of these threats are new: the coronavirus has disproportionately affected the Black community. Some are as old as the country itself. As is often the case, economic turmoil has disproportionately affected the Black community, and the record unemployment rate has hit the Black community hardest. 

And then there is the constant threat that the police will kill you. That’s what finally ended Floyd’s life.

“It was not the coronavirus pandemic that killed George Floyd,” Ben Crump, the attorney for Floyd’s family, said at Floyd’s memorial on Thursday. “I want to make it clear, on the record. It was that other pandemic that we’re far too familiar with in America ― the pandemic of racism and discrimination ― that killed George Floyd.” 

Ultimately, this boils down to a government response that treats Black people as if we are disposable.” Scott Roberts, senior director of criminal justice...

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