Letter to the Editor: A recent high school grad reflects on the killing of George Floyd

Who knew the “evil” the police were battling was the color of my skin?

My name is Kaia Fitzgerald. I am 17 years old and a 2020 high school graduate.

May 26, 2020, I turn on the news like I do every single day. The first thing I see is “I can’t breathe” and above the headlining, a white police officer pinning a black man down with his knee. The police officer slowly grinding his knee into his neck, the man pleads, groans and moans. The man says “I can’t breathe” and “My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Everything hurts. Water or something. Please. Please. I cannot breathe. I cannot breathe.”

I start sobbing; I sink down into my chair and a wave of anger and sadness washes over me. Every single week I see another one of my brothers and sisters die due to the actions of policemen. I am disgusted. I have been told my whole life as a young black woman to look up to policemen, to trust them. But, as I got older, I have developed nothing but fear of the police. My white counterparts cannot share that same fear. Some members of their family are even policemen. They see the police as their everyday heroes battling the “evil” of society. Who knew the “evil” the police were battling was the color of my skin? So I ask you policemen of Minneapolis, is this the society you are welcoming your 2020 high school graduates to?

To Derek Chauvin #1087: I have grown up in a household where you forgive those who do wrong. But, as I write this letter and research more and more, I find it harder to forgive your actions. In my eyes you have killed an innocent man. There were a hundred other ways you could’ve dealt with this situation, even while you were killing him. The man was handcuffed and on the ground, yet you decided the penalty for suspected forgery is death. While I am writing this letter, you and three other police officers have been fired. But I believe justice has not been served until you are behind bars.

To George Floyd’s family and friends: There are no words to express how sorry I am for your loss. You have lost a loved one to the hands of ignorance and bigotry. I hope you all take your time to grieve and know that justice will be served for George Floyd. You will all be in my prayers.

This letter is written by Kaia Fitzgerald, a 2020 graduate from the Roseville Area High School. 

This letter to the editor has been lightly edited for style and clarity.