by Oliver Cox
Posted on June 3, 2020 at 22:39
It's safe to say that, at the time of writing, the world is in turmoil. Since the start of 2020, the world has been ravaged by disease, and now the United States is seeing its worst period of civil unrest in decades. Fuelled by years of racial discrimination from America's police forces, a fire has begun; sparked by the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, by Derek Chauvin, a police officer with the Minneapolis Police Department.
Floyd allegedly attempted to pay for goods using a counterfeit $20 bill, and ended up paying with his life after the officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes, causing him to die from suffocation. Floyd never attempted to resist arrest, making this a clear cut case of cold-blooded murder.
Now, across the United States, and even across the world, people are protesting in response to Floyd's death - protesting against the racist system that caused this murder to occur, against the way that Chauvin is getting away with only a second degree murder charge, when he should be being charged with first, and against police brutality, both in Floyd's case, and in the police's response to the protests.
These protests started off peacefully, but in many cases have quickly turned violent, largely due to the police's use of excessive force whilst dealing with the protests. Donald Trump, the President of the United States, has ordered the army to intervene, ordering them to fire on his own citizens. Trump's response to the protests has angered many, as he has chosen to hide in the White House bunker whilst ordering police to fire tear gas at protesters - actions which have lead some to draw comparisons between the President and Adolf Hitler.
Leaders who have hidden in a bunker and gassed their own citizens include Saddam Hussein, Adolf Hitler and Donald Trump— Ben Wexler (@mrbenwexler) June 1, 2020
As usual, Trump has been making matters worse - in one notable case, police used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse a group of peaceful protesters, just so that he could stand in front of a church to pose for photographs whilst holding a Bible, an action which has since been condemned by various religious leaders. One such leader stated that "The president just used a Bible, the most sacred text of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and one of the churches of my diocese, without permission, as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus".
Now, moving on to the what was originally intended to be the main subject of this post - the image of a US flag being flown upside down by a protester in front of a burning building. This image, displayed at the top of the page, is particularly powerful for various reasons. Around the world, flying a country's flag upside down is often seen as an indication of disrespect to that country. However, in the US, it can also have another meaning - distress.
In the US, a flag flown upside down can be used as a "signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property". Effectively, this means that flying the US flag upside down can be used to indicate that your life is at risk, and that you need help.
This double meaning is what makes this image so powerful. It can be seen simultaneously both as an act of rebellion and a cry for help - a cry for help from an America whose citizens fear for their lives and their rights, due to the horrific cases of police brutality which they are being subjected to, and due to the miserable excuse for a President who leads them.
I want to conclude this post with a personal statement about where I stand on this matter. Usually, when writing these posts, I try to take a neutral standpoint - but not this time. I will not attempt to mask my viewpoint on this matter. I firmly believe that Donald Trump is a serious threat to both the American public, and to American democracy. He has on multiple occasions shown that he would happily accept foreign interference in an election, proving that he has no regard for democracy. Additionally, he has proven time and time again that he is a racist, a homophobe, a transphobe, and various other forms of detestable human being. For this reason, I despise him and anyone who supports him. If you support Donald Trump's administration in their handling of this murder, I strongly implore you to reconsider your viewpoint on the matter. You are actively supporting a disgusting regime headed by a disgusting man.
I stand with the protesters, both in the United States and around the world. The world needs change, and it needs it now. The murder of George Floyd is not an isolated incident - black people are almost always treated worse than white people by American law enforcement - a fact caused by the deeply ingrained racism that runs deep within the core of the United States. I am not saying that all Americans are racist - but rather that the country itself was founded upon racist principles, and they are still present to this day, particularly within the police force.
It is a time for change. Let your voices be heard, and let the world know that you will not stand for what happened to George Floyd. Let the world know that you will not stand by and watch as people are murdered in cold blood because of the colour of their skin. And let the world know that you want change, and that you want it now.
I'll finish off this post with a comment I recently read from a Reddit user, u/_johnfromtheblock_, which I think perfectly sums up my opinions on Trump:
"If you haven't noticed by now, Trump does not give a single fuck about you or about your family. He will literally tear gas you so he can have his picture take while awkwardly holding a bible, and not even go into the church. This is a man who is a racist, sexual predator, who has told states to "dominate" protestors - and they are listening...just watch some of these videos of police brutality during anti police brutality protests and you will see it. This man is a cancer not only to America, but the entire world."