As I watched the trial of Derek Chauvin the officer accused of killing George Floyd, viewed the video of the suffocation of Floyd and listened to the testimony of several the eyewitnesses, it became clear to me that the death of George Floyd was a crucifixion.   No this is not hyperbole and I am not being sacrilegious.  As a Christian and a minister of the gospel, I am very particular about anything or anyone that would be seen as analogous to Jesus Christ.  But in this instance, the use of the term crucifixion has little to do with Jesus.

Instead, it has more to do with the way crucifixions were used by the Roman Empire.  According to history between the two-year period of 73 BC—71 BC, 120,000 people were crucified in the Roman Empire.  Crucifixion was one of the executions used for sedition, the incitement of rebellion, against the empire. Public crucifixions were used by the Roman Empire to remind conquered people what happened whenever they forgot who they were and Josephus the historian wrote that the Romans lined the streets of Jerusalem with crosses, as a means of intimidation.  

When I watched the video of the incident and listened to the witness testimony in the Derek Chauvin case, what was most striking was how overt and publicly brutal the act of violence against George Floyd was.  The video showed that several bystanders had their phone camera’s recording the altercation while it was happening in plain sight of Officer Chauvin and the other officers at the scene.  You also could hear the bystanders pleading with Officer Chauvin to let George Floyd up, and continued to plead with him after Floyd was motionless on the ground for three minutes.  Several said to Chauvin, “He’s stopped breathing,” “You’re killing him,” but none of these pleas, that were all being filmed by eyewitnesses, phased Chauvin or the other officers at the scene.  How could they act in such a callous, disinterested and insensitive manner, oblivious to the witnesses that were recording them?

I concluded after listening to the screams and pleas from the bystanders, all whom were people of color, that Chauvin and the officers were not oblivious or disinterested at all.  No, they were very interested and very calculating.  They knew exactly what they were doing.  They were sending a message to the bystanders and to all other people of color.  And the message was, if you try to do something like George Floyd, the same thing will happen to you.  Make sure you film this, make sure you get all of this on tape; because we want everyone to see what happens when one of YOU gets out of line and forgets their place in Milwaukee.  The public, slow, brutal suffocation death of George Floyd was a deliberate act of intimidation for Black people and all people of color.   

One witness said he called out to Officer Chauvin and their eyes met.  He said he told Chauvin that he was giving George Floyd a blood choke.  He said Chauvin just stared at him and continued with his knee on George Floyd’s neck.  Another witness said that while they were screaming at Officer Chauvin to free George Floyd that she saw him apply more pressure with his knee on Floyd’s neck.  

The message that Officer Derek Chauvin and all of the Milwaukee PD was very clear.  It was a terrorizing message of tyranny and public execution that was meant as a warning to all citizens of color and particularly African Americans.  The message was, today its George Floyd, but tomorrow if you are not careful it can be any of you.

And so just as the Roman Empire did, the Milwaukee Police Department used the brutal public knee suffocation death of George Floyd that they knew was being video recorded by several Black bystanders to send a message to all of us.  And the point was made very clear. And the public broadcasting of it served to enhance and reinforce their objectives.  

And so George Floyd was publicly crucified but as in all unjust crucifixions, God always has the last word. And with every crucifixion there is always a resurrection.


There have been several world paralyzing pandemics throughout the annuls of human history, from the first recorded outbreak during the Peloponnesian War in 430 B.C. in Athens to the Antonine Plague of smallpox that began with The Huns and then the Germans in 165 AD. They all originated in various corners of the world, like the Justinian Plague of 541 AD that first appeared in Palestine and then spread throughout the Byzantine Empire.  Its recurrence would eventually kill 50 million people over the next two centuries and 26% of the world’s population.  It would be the first significant appearance of the bubonic plague.

In 1492 The Columbian Exchange with diseases such as smallpox, measles and bubonic plague entered the Caribbean by way of the invading European conquerors, who decimated the natives of the America’s with their invasions by sea.  In 1520 the Aztec Empire was destroyed by a smallpox infection, killing many of its victims while incapacitating a multitude of others.  

Research in 2019 concluded that some 56 million Native Americans in the 16th and 17th centuries died largely through disease and may have altered the earth’s climate as vegetation growth on previously tilled land drew more CO2 from the atmosphere and caused a cooling event.

In 1817 the first Cholera Pandemic originated in Russia where one million people died.  The disease then was passed through feces-infected water and food and was carried by British soldiers to India where millions more died.

And then in 1918 the avian-borne flu that resulted in 50 million deaths worldwide was first observed in Europe and the United States.  By October the death tool in America reached the hundreds of thousands but by the summer of 1919 the threat finally disappeared.

What is noteworthy about all of these major pandemics is that there is no significant record of anyone labeling the disease with the name of the country where the outbreak originated or blaming and attacking the citizens from those countries.  And there is no meaningful evidence that such a movement or movements ever emerged over the course of history.  The smallpox, measles and bubonic plague that Europeans brought to the America’s and infected so many natives with; from the Caribbean and other parts of South, Central and North America was not called the “European plague” or “Spanish-pox.”

So why is it that now when we are facing another worldwide pandemic that some are ignorant enough to attribute, associate or name the disease after the country, nation or people where it originated, calling if the “Chinese Virus”  or “Kung flu.”  Those who blindly parrot the virulently racist tropes of Donald Trump should perhaps consider that there are many European nations that could have worn the same label for some of the most devastating worldwide pandemics of the past. But no one in their right minds believes that fellow humans would deliberately cause such global human death and desolation if they could avoid it.

So let’s stop assaulting each other, and start associating with each other, so that together, we can bring an end to this long night of sadness and despair that has enshrouded so many homes and families around the globe.  As Martin King has said, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”