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"It'll take a generation to fumigate the White House after Donald Trump"

To better understand the widespread frustration and anger that has emerged in light of George Floyd's murder at the hands of a white police officer, sociologist Dr Harry Edwards spoke to Off The Ball about what is currently happening in America. 

As people occupy the streets in protest against the latest horrific act perpetrated against a black American person by a white police officer, Dr Harry Edwards, a veteran of many such protests since the 1960s, isn't sure if he's ever witnessed such widespread commitment to the cause at hand.

"I would have to go back to the period right after Dr Martin Luther King was assassinated," he recalled of the reaction to the activist's murder in 1968 on Tuesday's Off The Ball. "I don't think the Rodney King situation in 1992 reached this level of national consciousness, commitment and involvement. Even in '68, we did not have social media or the infiltration that we have today."

Through a combination of modern technology and the testing circumstances imposed by the current pandemic, Edwards explored why George Floyd's murder has sparked such a response.

"This was a lynching caught on camera," he remarked of Floyd's death. "The man was literally begging for his life as he was asphyxiated by a white cop with his knee on this man's neck.

"That was dramatic, it was profoundly disturbing and it occurred against a background where people have a lot of built-up anxiety and tension as a consequence of the pandemic and the incompetent and criminal way the President and his administration has handled it.

"With all that anxiety there, American people, sitting there in the homes they've been literally confined to, this is what comes over the airwaves into their homes. Even though this was just one man, it is part of a long history and pattern of police action against the black community."

Donald Trump A mural of George Floyd in West Dublin. Demonstrations have taken place across Ireland in the wake of Mr Floyd's death after a white officer held him down by pressing a knee into his neck last Monday.

The author of numerous books on the inequalities that bedevil American society, Dr Edwards outlined why the systematic issues at hand are not for America's oppressed to overturn.

"The police are here to protect white society from black people," he remarked of how life has in essence always been for America's black communities. "This is something that is endemic in the structure of human and institutional relationships in American society. It has deep roots.

"One-hundred and forty-seven black men, women and children have been killed on average every year since 1968 by the police. This is as opposed to 40 black men, women and children who were being lynched per-year between 1882 and 1968.

"Under the cover of the badge, more black people are being murdered in this country than were being lynched. All of that is coming to the fore and we're one more police killing caught on tape away from this really blowing up and exploding.

"The pain is in American communities of colour. The problem is in white communities and they've been extremely reluctant to get rid of the problem because it so deeply connected to their sense of white supremacy, their security and their privileges.

"Until you begin to get people in the white community talking about the pain in the communities of people of colour, the problem will persist."

Donald Trump

Furthermore, in US President Donald Trump, a clear enemy of the cause at hand, Edwards expects his negative influence on the matter of equality to linger.

"The Trump presidency will take a generation at least for us to get past," he suggested. "You cannot be the most powerful man in the world with all that political authority and not leave a footprint, or in this instance a knee on the neck of the American people.

"So, we're going to spend a generation simply trying to fumigate the White House and clean up the mess that he has left behind. This morally malignant degenerate and a certifiable moron who advises people to drink bleach and inject disinfectant to deal with the coronavirus in the Oval office, he is a major obstacle to the goals of the movement being achieved."

Crucially, as he enters his sixth decade of protesting for what's right and fair, Dr Harry Edwards message was clear: "There will be no final victory. We're going to continue the struggle."

You can listen back to Dr Harry Edwards in full here

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