In May 2020, George Floyd was killed by then Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who kneeled on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, while Floyd pleaded for his life, continually stating that he could not breathe. The killing was recorded on video by a bystander and the entire world could view it immediately. Following Floyd’s murder, one of the largest protest movements in U.S. history took place. In April 2021, Chauvin was found guilty on three separate counts, including second degree murder. Between the time Floyd was killed and Chauvin was convicted, there continued to be an overwhelming and steady outcry for changes in policing. People are advocating for reform, “defunding the police,” and a re-envisioning of public safety and some are recommending abolishing the police.
This lesson provides an opportunity for students to explore the purpose of policing and public safety in the U.S., to identify and understand specific changes to improve policing and prevent these murders, and to reflect on their own views of policing and write an essay or speech to express their vision and approach.