I have been shocked and deeply grieved at the comments some people have made, most notably Candace Owens, which I will be responding to as well, and memes that are floating around that highlight George Floyd’s troubled past. Not only have they seen fit to denigrate the grave of a man who was ruthlessly choked out by murderers dressed like cops (they are not worthy of the noble office and title of police officer), they also intentionally ignored the reforms that Mr. Floyd made in his life after those things.
All of this is deeply disturbing for so many reasons. What follows is my response to those who have felt compelled to do this:
Instead of expressing sorrow at seeing a man killed, you’ve decided, no doubt motivated by only the best intentions (!), to alert everyone to Mr. Floyd’s previous arrest record. You just couldn’t wait to cast the first stones at the sinner that he was as you held up his record of sins against God and man—rocks that you specifically went searching for, because evidently a Black man being choked out by bad cops must have been something he brought upon himself and deserved.
It may not be your intention, but you need to know that this is a tactic that is used time and again whenever a Black person is killed. For example, this article in Scientific American states, “When Black people are killed by police, their character and even their anatomy is turned into justification for their killer’s exoneration. It’s a well-honed tactic.”
To put this in perspective, I saw a video recently of a young teenaged White girl named Izabella from Louisiana in tears as she spoke of how her parents told her that Mr. Floyd got what he deserved because he did something wrong. We don’t know if they were referring to Mr. Floyd’s past, but it certainly seems more than coincidental.
As for those stones, not all of them are entirely “smooth” (accurate), both in terms of details of his past arrest record, and his condition at the time of his arrest that led to his tragic and senseless murder. All of it is totally irrelevant to what happened to him.
Nevertheless, you quickly ran to the rock quarry of his rap sheet, admiring each stone that you self-righteously threw, as if to cry out “He was not a good person!” and “He’s no martyr!” You threw those stones of condemnation seemingly oblivious to the fact that they had no relevance to how he was choked out. You wanted the world to take their eyes off of that, and put them on the bad things Mr. Floyd did in the past which paints him as some kind of immoral monster who evidently had it coming to him. To buttress the case, you seemed to take great delight in the fact that he was found to have drugs in his system at the time of his death as if to say, “See how evil he was! He got what he deserved!”
Like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day (John 8:1-8), you exalted yourself in self-righteous moralism over George Floyd and stoned him in the public square—a man that was ruthlessly murdered. You then firmly and methodically rubbed mounds of salt into the fresh, open wounds of his family, friends, and community who actually knew him and loved him, and the African American community as a whole. It was as if you dug up his grave, pulled out his body, and after stoning it, you spat on it. The message to many black Americans, the most important being his kids which include his precious 6–year old daughter, is “There’s your hero!” Racists everywhere are cheering emphatically at the spectacle. Which raises the question: what would possibly possess you to do things that we might expect racists to do?
Thanks to your efforts, any sympathy and willingness that White people may have had to discuss the very real issues that exist regarding race was effectively doused. To them, Black people are exactly what you and others have painted them out to be: irrational grievance hustlers who revel in victimhood, and so dimwitted that they have the audacity to think racism still exists.
As for the reforms in Mr. Floyd’s life that you intentionally bypassed, he had been out of prison for 7 years at the time of his murder, and had done much good during that time. A Christianity Today article outlines the significant positive impact “Big Floyd” made in his community. Pastor Patrick PT Ngwolo said, “George Floyd was a person of peace sent from the Lord that helped the gospel go forward in a place that I never lived in…The platform for us to reach that neighborhood and the hundreds of people we reached through that time and up to now was built on the backs of people like Floyd.” Nijalon Dunn, who was impacted by Big Floyd’s ministry, said, “His faith was a heart for the Third Ward that was radically changed by the gospel, and his mission was empowering other believers to be able to come in and push that gospel forth…There are things that Floyd did for us that we’ll never know until the other side of eternity.”
Why would you not mention that? By all accounts, that’s who he was after his incarceration. Mr. Floyd’s story speaks to the power of redemption, something that we as Christians believe. We all have sinned, and stand rightly condemned before God. But God so loved a world of George Floyd’s and John Orlando’s and yes, even Derek Chauvin’s, that He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to come and suffer and die on the cross to bear the full penalty for our sins and rose from the grave so that all who repent and trust in Him alone are forever forgiven of all of their sins—which are cast as far as the east is from the west—and brought into a living relationship with God forever.
“Big Floyd,” as far as we can discern, was gripped by the power of God’s grace. He understood he was a sinner, and he cried out to the Triune God of the universe for forgiveness. And in Christ, he received it, and there was real fruit in his life that showed that he was transformed from a troubled man who spent time in jail, to a man who used his experience to help keep others from going down the same hopeless path that he had travelled. Countless Christians down through the centuries have a similar story, and with George Floyd sing “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now found, was blind but now I see.”
The man who wrote that famous hymn, John Newton, himself had a sordid background. By his own admission he was a hateful man and wicked slave trader who presided over and took joy in inflicting misery upon others. But then God’s grace awakened him and transformed him. His rap sheet, like all of those who come to Christ, was now covered in the blood of Jesus, and Newton could never stop being amazed at such grace that would be shown to such a wretch as he.
We can go back even further. I’m reminded of a rather famous man named Saul of Tarsus. His claim to fame was rounding up Christians and throwing them in jail, and in some cases having them ruthlessly murdered for simply believing that Jesus was the Messiah. That same ruthless man was brought to his knees in repentance and faith, and became a Christian, and went on to change the world as he became known as the apostle Paul. He was at times haunted by his past, as he would describe himself as the chief of sinners, but he rejoiced in God’s sovereign grace and how his rap sheet was forever nailed to the cross and covered by the blood of the Savior.
True, George Floyd was no apostle Paul (and ironically I have seen White people equate Derek Chauvin, and not George Floyd, with Paul, as if to say that he could be just like Paul! But Mr. Floyd, like Paul, like John Newton, and like everyone who trusts in Christ alone for their right standing before God was a sinner saved by grace alone, and whose rap sheet of offenses against God and man was covered forever in Christ’s blood.
None of this means that a person who comes to Christ will never struggle after their conversion. Mr. Floyd was a deeply flawed human being just like the rest of us. And like the rest of us, he was in desperate need of God’s grace. Sadly, it seems he struggled with substance abuse and relapsed. But the only thing he was suspected of that day, as far as we know, was trying to pass a fake $20 bill, which he may not have even known was fake. It matters not if he resisted arrest or not, or what was on his rap sheet 10 years ago. It wouldn’t even matter if he had just gotten out of prison the previous day. The only thing that matters is that he was brutally murdered.
As for martyrs, Mr. Floyd was not killed for a cause that he or we believe in. He was tortured for 9 minutes and killed at the hands of ruthless men, who we also pray would experience the transforming power of Christ’s salvation. But, what would possibly motivate them to do that to Mr. Floyd? What explains why a person keeps his knee pressed into a person’s neck while 2 others put pressure on his back and legs? What possibly explains how they continued this despite his pleas, the pleas of bystanders, and despite the fact that he was unresponsive for almost 3 minutes? We may not be able to prove definitively that race played a role, though it cannot be discounted out of hand as so many are always so quick to do.
Whatever the case, at the very least, it provides an opportunity for us as a culture to talk about issues of race and policing reform that have been swept under the rug for far too long. And what if it is discovered that race was a motivating factor? What will you say then?
Mr. Floyd may not be a martyr, but what happened to him served as a vivid symbol of the painful history of African Americans in this country, and the justified trust gap that exists with the police. When many Black men saw what happened, they didn’t just see Mr. Floyd, they saw themselves: “That could’ve been me.” It brought back to memory their own experiences of harassment at the hands of police, and their own experiences of overt or covert racism, and the need to remind their sons of the precautions they need to take (that White boys don’t) when confronted by police.
You claim to be a patriot who loves our country. So, to understand how many of your Black brothers in the family called “American” are impacted by Big Floyd’s murder, I encourage to listen to the words of Air Force General Charles Brown. Would you be so bold as to look that great man in the eye and triumphantly rub Mr. Floyd’s rap sheet in his face? Just know that your meme does exactly that:
And since you claim to be a Christian, I refer you to the testimony of one a dear man that I have know, Shai Linne. Again, your meme has the effect of looking this dear brother in the eye and triumphantly rubbing Mr. Floyd’s rap sheet in his face.
I close with this question: why did you feel the need to post that meme highlighting Mr. Floyd’s past, while ignoring the reforms he had made in his life? What were you trying to accomplish? I encourage you to examine your heart: were you in part motivated by prejudice against Black people? If so, repent and ask the Lord’s forgiveness, and in keeping with repentance I encourage you to take the meme down, and offer an apology to the family and children of Mr. Floyd, and to the African American community as whole.