Kate Nash, whose brother William was one of 14 civil rights marchers gunned down by the Parachute Regiment in Derry on January 30th 1972 speaking at Free Derry Wall in solidarity with the family of George Floyd, crushed to death by the Minneapolis police on May 26th, 2020.
Mr. Floyd’s life meant as little to the Minneapolis police as the lives of Derry people meant to the men of the Parachute Regiment in 1972. The murder of our fathers, brothers, sons has never been forgotten, because we have ensured that the case won’t be closed until the full truth is told, and the killers brought to book.
George’s family may have a long trek ahead of them before they reach justice. We hope they know that there are millions of people across the world standing in solidarity with them right now.
In Derry, as in Minnesota, people of the “wrong colour” are always hit hardest when the State takes its gloves off and reveals its iron fist.
Mr. Floyd’s cry of “Let me breathe” echoes across the ages. It has been heard in a hundred languages in a thousand cities. It is inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty – “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free….”
Millions came together for the Bloody Sunday families almost 50 years ago. That strong, wide, deep sense of solidarity has been a huge source of comfort to us. It also lays a duty on us to raise our voices high when we witness hatred crushing innocence again.
In Minneapolis as well as in Derry, murder was done by men uniformed to represent the State. We live a long, long way from one another. But we live the same reality. The source of our strength is that we are all one.
A west Donegal woman put it best, Fiona Whelan, wife and now widow of the great song writer John Prine. She said this week:
John Prine and George Floyd. Both good American men who died gasping for a final breath that came much too soon. My husband, John, was lovingly cared for by medical staff at Vanderbilt and passed due to Covid-19 lung infection on April 7. The other – say his name again – George Floyd, was murdered while lying prone and handcuffed on a street in Minneapolis. George Floyd was killed by a police officer who obstructed air to his lungs by pushing his knee and full body weight into Mr Floyd’s neck.This country is so very sad and dangerous for all Americans right now. And things could get much, so much worse….I am sick to my stomach and anxious in my head and heart. And, I am so profoundly sad.
We are all sick to our stomachs and anxious in our heads and hearts. Which is why now, more than ever, we have to look out for one another. It is only when we are together that we shall ever overcome.
No Justice. No Peace.