Wimberly Mourns George Floyd: Nine Minutes – and Right on Time

Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly says he will support a millionaire's tax if it is posted for a vote, but he doesn't see enough support in the caucus for such a bill to pass.

Another day in America, another police custody killing of a black man – a name added to a wall erected to the dead, this time that of George Floyd in Minneapolis, who lay in the street with an officer’s knee on the back of his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds.

In February, Paterson Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-35) wrote the following words in an InsiderNJ op-ed:

The combination of the rise in mass incarceration, voter disenfranchisement, unequal educational opportunities, disparate healthcare practices, job and housing discriminations, police brutality and an unequal justice system has waged a decades-long war on their futures. Along with segregation and inequality, it all adds up to the slow genocide of a people. 

Today, he considered the death of George Floyd.

“Add him to the list of a dream deferred,” he said. “It’s heart-wrenching. I’m the father of four young men, and it’s a scary thought, to think of them traveling from a low economic area to a higher economic area, for example, where people may have a different mindset.”

He considered the killing, filmed by passionately objecting onlookers as other police stood around and did nothing.

“There’s no way to justify it,” Wimberly said. “How do you justify it?”

The assemblyman and coach said the latest police killing occurs within an environment of hatred and intolerance enmeshed in ignorance of American history and specifically the history of struggle.

“I’m sick and tired of beating up on the president, but its a mindset that people can stand on statehouse stairs with [guns] and threaten to open the government back up,” said the assemblyman. “Racism among these young folk is learned. It’s taught. The cycle has become vicious; the mindset of ‘us’ against ‘them’.

“Nine minutes,” Wimberly added. “All those guys are damn guilty. The other officers who stood there and did nothing – for nine minutes – are guilty as hell, too. These were trained officers?”

He acknowledged the impact of police violence on young people, for whom police are increasingly the enemy on perpetual war footing. “A generation is growing up disliking cops and not wanting to become cops, thining, ‘those are not the good guys’,” he said.

“Nine minutes,” he added. “And that piece I wrote months ago? It’s right on time.”

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