‘It’s traumatizing’: Grand Strand activists discuss African American grief, frustrations after George Floyd’s killing

Grand Strand

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (WBTW) – While the nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd haven’t reached the Grand Strand, two activists are discussing the emotional toll this week’s events are having on African Americans.

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck for about nine minutes in cell phone video on Monday. He was fired by the police department, along with three other officers seen in the video standing near Floyd.

Chauvin was arrested Friday afternoon and is charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. His bail was set at $500,000. The other three officers have not been arrested or charged yet.

Shakedra Jenerette is the founder of I Am Enough. It’s a nonprofit organization, mentoring children across South Carolina about self-esteem, career building and believing in themselves.

Jenerette says Floyd’s killing is far from the first time she’s told her five kids how to be safe or they may not come home.

“While I would like them to trust the police officers, it’s difficult for me to tell them to do that when they witness several instances where the police have been the ones to harm us,” she said.

Effie Baldwin is the CEO of Believing in a Better World. It’s a professional service that uses activities like yoga and golf to help people’s “mind, body and spirit.”

Baldwin says the video of Floyd’s death that has been seen by so many around the world is unfortunately not a shock to her.

“A lot of us don’t need a video to tell us that,” she said. “It’s only new to those who haven’t had to endure it. For us who see it again and again, it’s traumatizing.”

That trauma can affect even the simplest decisions to avoid profiling.

“If my hair is cut short and I’m in a car driving by, I look just like a teenage boy,” said Baldwin. “Have I been pulled over? Yes. Have I been pulled over several times before? Yes.”

There have been peaceful protests and riots across the Twin Cities for the past four days. Protesters burned down a Minneapolis police precinct on Thursday night near the site of Floyd’s death. Protests and riots have also started in many other U.S. cities.

Jenerette says the rioting is a way people of all backgrounds are coping with not having their concerns about police brutality heard.

“To me, that’s grief,” she said. “We have tried expressing ourselves by kneeling quietly or peacefully protesting and there haven’t been any results.”

Jenerette and Baldwin, who work with the group Grand Strand Action Together, say white people can do more than only be upset after an incident like George’s killing.

“For a lack of a better word, policing their own,” Baldwin said. “There are environments that I may never be in, but when you hear things that are inappropriate, when you see things that are inappropriate, use your privilege.”

Jenerette also says the work starts at home.

“Don’t just show up when the news cameras come or make Facebook videos and stuff,” she said. “Vote correctly, be verbal, teach your children better.”

Baldwin also says there are emotional support resources for African Americans dealing with trauma from seeing events like this. Those include The Association of Black Psychologists and the Community Healing Network. Baldwin also mentioned how The Minnesota Freedom Fund is helping protect the legal rights of protesters in the Twin Cities.

Conway Police Chief Dale Long and Georgetown County Sheriff Carter Weaver released separate statements before Chauvin’s arrest, criticizing his actions. Florence County Sheriff William Barnes also released a statement to News13 shortly after Chauvin’s arrest:

The images from the Minneapolis incident are both tragic and horrifying. While it is impossible to know everything about this incident to make a final judgment at this time, from what I have seen so far, it is hard to come to any other conclusion but that the actions of at least one officer was not justified and probably lead to the death of George Floyd. There should be an immediate and thorough investigation by the appropriate authorities, which I understand has already begun.

I do not tolerate this or any other misconduct from my deputies. As this incident is investigated further and all the facts are known, any police officer guilty of a crime should be prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent of the law.

Florence County Sheriff William Barnes

 The South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers’ Association also condemned the four Minneapolis officers’ actions, in a statement released before Chauvin’s arrest Friday.

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