June 04, 2020

George Floyd and the Elephant #AllLivesMatter

Just when I thought the Coronavirus pandemic had succeeded in getting humans a little sensitive towards nature and other species, reality decided to prove me wrong. 

Take for instance the heinous crime against the innocent fifteen year old elephant in Palakkad, Kerala. 
It has been alleged that some unidentified locals fed the mute creature a pineapple stuffed with firecrackers. This resulted in her suffering from severe degree burns and excruciating pain in the mouth.
The pachyderm rushed to the nearby river where she stayed with her trunk and mouth dipped in the water. No amount of efforts from the forest officials could manage to get her out. 
She stood there silently, nursing her smarting wounds, hanging her head as if in shame at her faith in humans and their kindness. Until she breathed her last. 
Post mortem reports revealed she was pregnant. 

Cut to the far flung West, where an innocent man named George Floyd met a brutal death for no fault of his. Following a false allegation of theft/counterfeit for a petty supermarket expense, the police officer in charge arrested George needlessly and violently, pressing his knee into his neck. Handcuffed and bound in that vulnerable state, George kept gasping for breath, but his voice reached empty ears. The officer held him down for almost nine minutes...till he finally stopped breathing. 
The assault was caught on camera and has been a cause of widespread resentment ever since. All over the U.S, there have been violent protests and angry demonstrations from the black population. 

Why am I writing about both these incidents in the same piece?
My intention is not to compare the gravity of the two situations, no.
I’m aware that the murder of a human is a much more serious offence than the slaughter of any other mammal, at least in the book of law. 
However, recent happenings has forced me drawing parallels...between two incidents, in two unrelated parts of the world and yet linked by one common factor—-inhumanity. 

Today I grieve, for both, the Elephant in Kerala and George in Minneapolis. I grieve today, for the murder of their trust, their innocence, their vulnerability. At the hands of a diabolical and prejudiced mentality. 
The elephant had a tiny life growing within her. George had a family; a wife, children, an entire life ahead of him. 
Both were taken away before their time. Why? 
Does a life mean nothing to someone who is entrusted with the responsibility to guard it? 
In Pallakad, Kerala, it was the locals who considered themselves superior. In Minneapolis, the white officer found himself at a position of privilege. Does that mean they had the right to abuse this privilege...for their entertainment, to prove their supremacy? 

Both these instances were followed by mass social outrage.
All over India, animal activists cried hoarse over the elephant tragedy. They raked up old unresolved cases of similar nature and lambasted the Government.
Secular Americans did the same.

The Kerala Government pinned a reward to anybody who would identify the offenders. The NYPD sacked the officer from his post in the department. The protestors weren’t satisfied. Would that bring Floyd back? They wanted justice. They wanted the President to have their back, to promise them a society with no undercurrents of discrimination. Of course, it did not help that the POTUS switched off the lights and hid in the bunkers. 
Some demanded explanations. Some made it look like political propaganda. 
The excuses started to trickle in...excuses to cushion the savage nature of the murders, to explain that these deaths were not as intentional as they appeared to be.
Someone claimed the pineapple was a trap for wild boars and the elephant ate it accidentally. 
Forensics reported Floyd as Covid positive and although they did not dare to associate that as the direct reason for his death, they insinuated that his lungs had not been strong enough to take the strain of the knee-neck lock.
But isn’t that exactly what excuses are meant to do—-make it seem like the victim’s fault? 

What is to come out of all this then? 
A few weeks down and the chaos will settle. The activists will tire. The voices will fade. The protests will lose their energy...and our sorry lives will go on like they did before. 
The offenders will be punished. People will realise that they cannot take the vulnerable for granted. The Government will know it is answerable to a public that votes for it...that it can run but it cannot cower down and hide. The public will understand they deserve more than they get and they have every right to ask for it.
One pregnant elephant. One black man. They can either be a statistic in the record or can change the entire face of history. 
However, it is only when we voice our opinion, when we take a stand for the injustice done to others that we can expect someone to voice their opinion against the injustice done to us.

Whether it is happening to a mute creature in a remote village in Kerala or it is happening to an innocent black man in Minnesota, Minneapolis, bullying is brutal and should be challenged not by silence but by confrontation, by awareness, by supporting the victims, by punishing the offenders.

Let’s make some noise about the issue. It’s time to wake up! 


aditi said...

These two incidents got limelight and thus blown out of proportion. There are numerous victims who don't even reach a single ear.
If people take it as a wake-up call, nothing like it. Otherwise, it's going to be another warning by nature that the virus named human should be eliminated.

pranita said...

These 2 events made disturbance in USA people's life

Neha Sharma said...

I agree with you, these 2 incidents amidst corona scare have jolted everyone from inside, made us question where are we actually heading to. Do we really deserve to call ourselves humans? Humanity is dying. Feel so sad looking at what's happening to the world around us & the worst part, we can't even do anything except raising our voice.

Pri said...

@ Aditi I agree with you when you say that people should take this up as a wake up call. We are already facing the music. Besides, George Floyd is just one example of white privilege. There have been countless cases that have either been underreported or haven’t reached the public eye. Check out the tragic case of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. Similar situations happening in India with Indians too. We need to fight this injustice as a collective voice. Globally!

Pri said...

@ Pranita
The murder of George Floyd and the ongoing protests are causing great unrest in the U.S, I agree. Serious offences have serious consequences. It’s time people realised that and changed the narrative.
The ‘elephant death’ in India is also causing a social media uproar but I have mainly used it in my post to draw parallels between the murder of two unsuspecting innocents. Otherwise, there is no dearth of crimes against humans happening in India as well. :(
Thanks for stopping by my blog. Do visit again!

Pri said...

@ Neha Sharma
True, Neha. :(
It indeed feels like humanity has hit rock bottom. But hope springs eternal.
Our voice is a powerful tool against injustice. If we are going to change the narrative, we should start by acknowledging and pointing out the fault in it first!