Opinion The Backstory: Journalists report news. But we're also people. George Floyd's death brings pain, frustration.
Trump expects 'full report' on death of George Floyd
President Trump on Wednesday described the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody as a "very sad event" and said he expects a "full report" when he returns to Washington. "We're going to look at it, and we're going to get a report tomorrow when we get back," Trump told reporters while touring the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., when asked whether the police officers involved in the death should be prosecuted. "We're"We're going to look at it, and we're going to get a report tomorrow when we get back," Trump told reporters while touring the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., when asked whether the police officers involved in the death should be prosecuted.
I'm USA TODAY editor-in-chief Nicole Carroll, and this is The Backstory, insights into our biggest stories of the week. If you'd like to get The Backstory in your inbox every week,
For eight minutes, the white police officer kept his knee on the neck of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man suspected of forgery in Minneapolis. Floyd gasped, "I can't breathe." He died shortly after.
In New York's Central Park, Amy Cooper, a white woman,. "I'm going to tell them there's an African American man threatening my life," she told the man, who was recording the interaction.
Journalists targeted during demonstrations in the United States
© ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS A demonstration after the death of George Floyd, May 30, 2020 in Washington Journalists were attacked in several cities in the United States during the Demonstrations in recent days in response to the death of George Floyd, by police and protesters, assaulted, arrested or targeted by gunfire.
This, of course, just three weeks after a video surfaced of theas he jogged in a neighborhood outside Brunswick, Georgia.
And it's just a little two months after Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Louisville ER technician,in the early morning hours during a narcotics investigation.
At our morning news meeting this week, we were discussing the two most recent incidents, the horrible headlines of the day.
USA TODAY Money editor Philana Patterson was shaken, mad, hurt and fed up. She has deep understanding of both the black community and law enforcement. Her father was a Chicago police officer.
Dozens protest at U.S. embassy in Paris in solidarity with George Floyd
Dozens protest at U.S. embassy in Paris in solidarity with George Floyd , an African-American whose death in police custody last week has sparked unrest in the United States. © Reuters/CHRISTIAN HARTMANN Protest against the death of George Floyd, in Paris Most dressed in black and wearing face masks due to the coronavirus crisis, the demonstrators held signs saying: "Racism is choking us," "Justice for Floyd" and "I can't breathe" -- the last words Floyd gasped as a white officer knelt on his neck.
"I can't believe we're talking about this – again," she said.
Our team headed to Minneapolis, where we coveredand the . All four have already been fired.
, who detailed a history of run-ins with local police.
We wrote about
"The emotional and psychological impact of racism means acutely, every day, being reminded that you are not enough, being reminded that you are not seen, being reminded that you are not valued, being reminded that you are not a citizen, being reminded that humanity is not something that applies to you," said Alisha Moreland-Capuia, executive director of Oregon Health & Science University's Avel Gordly Center for Healing.
Journalists report news. But we're also people. And many times what we cover and how we live intersect, often painfully.
This happened with the Asian American community facing hostility and racism over the coronavirus.
Death of George Floyd: Spike Lee directs a chilling short film
In reaction to the tragic death of George Floyd, killed by a police officer on May 25, Spike Lee directed the chilling short film "3 Brothers - Radio Raheem, Eric Garner and George Floyd ".
Now is another of those times, especially for black journalists.
"You know, it's not something that is outside of this newsroom," said investigative editor Nichelle Smith, at a meeting we had to discuss how we cover these events. "It's not something that's separate and we're all in this fish bowl looking outside. It's something that's very real for a number of us here."
And the pandemic may be making matters worse.
"There's some evidence that police are regulating mask wearing and social distancing rules more in black communities than they are in non communities of color, actually black and Hispanic communities," Patterson said.
National reporter Deborah Berry recently talked to her brother-in-law, who was driving through the University of Maryland campus in College Park on his way from a tennis game when he was stopped by a campus police officer. When he asked why, the officer first told him because he was looking at the facility. He had stepped out to look at the new construction from behind a fence. The officer then brought up the stay-at-home order and threatened to issue a violation or arrest him. “We’ll see how this goes," he was told.
Jay-Z: his poignant message in homage to George Floyd
© Behar Anthony / SPUS / ABACA On a full page, a black background and an extract from a speech by Martin Luther King in 1965, to Selma in the 'Alabama. This is what many Americans will find in the newspapers of the day. American rapper Jay-Z bought many pages of ads in the national press to get a message out. “A man dies when he refuses to fight for what is right. A man dies when he refuses to fight for what is true. ” Strong words, in tribute to George Floyd.
The officer let him go. But her brother-in-law left angry, hurt. He filed complaints with the police and university.
"This is real, like every day, for many African Americans," Berry said.
Michael McCarter is the executive editor of the Evansville Courier & Press in Indiana. Like Berry, he wanted to make sure we acknowledge this behavior happens everywhere, not just in black neighborhoods.
"The truth of the matter is there is no escape," he said. "If you're in the wrong place, you're just in the wrong place."
Audience editor Felecia Wellington Radel says there are so many things to be outraged over. She asked, "Why does this feel different?" She quickly answered her own question.
"People already are facing confusing, exhausting, stressful things," she said. "And it's like, I could take my allowed walk during quarantine and somebody (could) call the police on me. Will the police show up? Could I get hurt? Already it's hard enough for a person of color, particularly these black men."
Digital opinion editor Eileen Rivers was in the middle of editing a column that stated "we're all in this together."
"But clearly," she said, "we're all not in this together."
"As a black journalist in America, I often feel like my coverage of these incidents amounts to screaming into the void,".
All 4 Ex-Officers Charged in George Floyd Killing
All four former Minneapolis police officers involved in the fatal arrest of George Floyd have now been charged with murder, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who has taken over the case, said on Wednesday. Three of the officers involved were charged with aiding and abetting a second-degree murder. The charges against the officer who choked Floyd for nearly nine minutes were also raised from third-degree murder to second-degree murder. "I"I strongly believe that these developments are in the interest of justice for Mr.
"And as a black journalist in America, I’m tired of being shocked by images of brutality. Each one bruises my psyche and hurls me into a mini-depression. It makes me wonder whether my work is making a difference."
Mabinty Quarshie is a politics editor. She thinks about the families left behind.
"We forget that there's this whole legacy of black people who have to deal with this. Like children (without) dads, spouses who lose partners, you know, parents who lose children. They're still suffering."
At the end of the meeting, we did what journalists do. We made lists of stories. We made assignments. But the discussion will and must go on.
"It's that often when we do have these conversations, people become extremely uncomfortable right now," Radel said. "People don't actually want to always have the conversation. Sometimes people will take conversations about race and make it a conversation about politics, which has the easy lines to follow, then you completely changed the conversation."
Smith says black people "walk on eggshells" daily. "That is real and we don't talk about it with the honesty that we need to."
Let's keep talking.
"We need to ... elevate those voices in the room (that) can shed some light on what this really looks like and what this really needs," she said.
Couldn't agree more.
Near the end of the call in one of the Zoom boxes – in a scene familiar to many people working from home – one of Radel’s two young sons walked up to her. She pulled him in close with a smile.
“Witnessing that was a moment that reminded me why we are here and why representation is so important,” Patterson said later. “That child is just one example of the future that we need to be a part of making better.”
USA: Vigil in Minneapolis in tribute to George Floyd
USA-POLICE-EVENTS: USA: Vigil in Minneapolis in tribute to George Floyd © Reuters / LINDSEY WASSON USA: VIGIL IN MINNEAPOLIS IN TRIBUTE TO GEORGE FLOYD MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota ( Reuters) - Several hundred people gathered for a vigil Wednesday in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on the street where George Floyd was arrested last week by city police, an intervention after which the 46-year-old black man died.
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Loud silence: "Silent Demos" planned against racism .
In Stuttgart, Karlsruhe and Mannheim, people with silent "Silent Demos" want to protest against racism this Saturday. The occasion is the death of African American George Floyd, who died in the United States on May 25 after a policeman had kneeled his neck for minutes. "Racism is also active in Germany," said the organizer of the Stuttgart demo, Nadia Asiamah. © Photo: Uwe Anspach / dpa A graffiti, candles, flowers and stones in memory of George Floyd in Mannheim.