What’s going on in the US?

When I was planning my blog the first thing, I thought was to include a section dedicated to the US presidential election 2020. I love to talk, about everything that comes from America, it’s a passion born when I was young, and I watched for the first time the movie “Home Alone” and all the tv series realized in this country. From that time I never stopped to discover the continent from the North to the South in all its aspects.

As a fan, I was following the US presidential election analyzing all the candidate’s tactics when something happened. The United States is experiencing terrible weeks. From George Floyd’s death to the Minneapolis riots, from Donald Trump’s against social networks to the withdrawal of the US from the WHO (World Health Organization). 

All in all, don’t forget that we are into one of the worst pandemic, in world history. I can’t image how Trump spent the last weeks. Let me start off by telling you one thing at a time, to understand what’s going on in the country where everyone dreams of living. The land of freedom. The nation was founded on the premise that all human begins are created equal in rights and dignity. 

This story is articulate to be told in one post otherwise it will be infinite, and you will scroll down the page and you will never find the end. So, I divided the story into various articles. 

George Floyd

The beginning. On May 25, Minneapolis police officers arrested George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, after a shopkeeper called 911, accusing him of buying cigarettes with a counterfeit $25. This was just a call. A few minutes later the first squad car arrived at the scene, the banknote man was still nearby, sitting inside his car. Based on the report written by the agents after the operation, Floyd was unarmed but seemed to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Once he got out of the car, after resisting the agents, he has an unspecified “medical Accident” and died. A few hours later a video shot by a passerby, and others from the surrounding security cameras, showed how things really went.

Floyd got out of the car and offered no resistance to arrest. Despite this, the agents had immobilized him, handcuffed his hands behind his back, and thrown him on the ground on his stomach, in a position openly discouraged by the training of the agents because it can cause asphyxiation.

As if that were not enough, although Floyd did not move, two agents had placed one knee on his body and crushed him with all their weight; one of them, Derek Chauvin, already sanctioned in the past for violent behavior, had planted his knee on his neck. 

The scene seen from the road. The video shows Floyd moaning and gasping, saying “I can’t breathe, please” several times, while passersby yell at the policeman to move and turn him over. But the cop doesn’t move and pretends not to hear Floyd’s gasps. The cop doesn’t move even when Floyd stops complaining, he starts bleeding from his nose, closes his eyes, and loses consciousness. When the paramedics arrive and immediately take Floyd’s beat, the knee is still on his neck. It’s a video that has gone around the world, and at this point a historical document, but it brings nightmares. 

The squad and the abuses. The four police officers were fired, and the one who put his knee on Floyd’s neck was arrested and charged with murder. But the death of George Floyd, as you know, is not an isolated case. The abuse and violence by those who feel protected by the uniform are not an American exclusive, but in the United States, the cases of African American people killed or threatened by arrogance and police violence follow one another with unimaginable and unclean frequency. 

In Minnesota, there have been 200 similar cases in the past thirty years. Only in Minnesota. In the United States, one in a thousand African American males dies killed by the police, more than two and a half times more than it happens to white males.

These are stories that originate not only in racism but in the way in which racism has been imposed with the full force of the law in the United States for over two and a half centuries, first with four centuries of slavery and then with a century of apartheid and racial segregation which formally ended only in 1964, that is the day before yesterday, with the approval of the civil rights law. It has been a long way since then, but we are still very far from a situation that can be defined as acceptable.

Minneapolis. This is a city whose police have long had a problem with abuse and racism. After George Floyd’s death, there have been days and nights of protests. The demonstrations were largely peaceful but the police treated them as an insurrection, using tear gas, rubber bullets, and stun grenades to disperse the participants, and arriving at the disturbing and at the same time ridiculous. Ridiculous was the live arrest of a black CNN journalist who was not doing anything but working, he introduced himself as a journalist and offered to move to the place that was most convenient for law enforcement.

Soon the protests turned into riots, as had already happened in Ferguson in 2014, in Baltimore in 2015, in Charlotte in 2016, in St. Louis in 2017, and many other times: and the riots spread to many other cities. There were damaged cars and shop windows, and a police station – evacuated – set on fire. Martin Luther King in the sixties disassociated himself from the revolts, which he considered counterproductive, but clearly framed them as “the language of the unheeded”.

…And Trump? Perhaps for polls, perhaps to distract public opinion from the most serious economic crisis for a century and from the coronavirus epidemic, Trump on Twitter has been unleashed for a few weeks. In the last few days he has repeatedly accused a journalist he disliked of murder, relaunched a video that says “the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat” and accused the governors of California and Washington state of having mailed the ballot papers to the whole population in order to rig the elections. The latter never happened, and Twitter decided to do an unprecedented thing: it added a link under Trump’s tweet, indicating to its users where to find more information.

Of course, Trump was furious and accused Twitter to censor him, threatening revenge. Then, he actually took his revenge: he signed an executive order that calls for modification of the law that today relieves social networks of responsibility for the content published by users, considering their only technological platforms and not publishers. A choice that would expose social networks to great legal consequences.

Every time someone defames someone else on Twitter, the social network would be legally responsible for it, which appears self-defeating for Trump himself, given that the neutrality of this platform is what has allowed him so far to say any nonsense on social networks without ever being afraid of being censored.

In fact, what was Twitter’s reaction? A subsequent tweet from Trump, who commented on the Minneapolis riots by calling protesters “criminals” and threatening them with death, was obscured by Twitter because it was considered an “exaltation of violence”.

Trump’s decision has no immediate consequences: he only asked to change a law that in all probability will not be changed. And his move was dictated with all evidence by personal revenge: nothing that affects the interest of people. But the theme on which it is grafted is broad and discussed for years.

Social networks are only neutral platforms, and therefore should they not be held responsible for the content they host as they are published independently by users? Or should they be considered publishers, and therefore answer for what they publish? The distinctions are less clear than they seem. A social network is not a newspaper, of course.

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