U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams was on the podcast “Pulse Check” last week when he said that what happened to Floyd could have happened to him. He said he is the same age Floyd was.
“That could be me, pulled over for speeding five miles over the speed limit. That could be me with a busted tail light,” Adams told the publication. “That could be me who is just seen as a black man and not as the surgeon general of the United States — especially if I’m not wearing a uniform, but I’m casually dressed in my hoodie and tennis shoes and athletic apparel — and that could be me on the side of a road with a knee in my neck.”
One of the reasons police were called to the scene of George Floyd was not that a man simply used a fraudulent $20 bill to buy cigarettes. They said that the man was acting like he was on something. That alone could have sparked a different reaction from the police.
According to the medical examiner’s report, Floyd had fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system at the time of his death. Which would explain his strange behavior?
According to an article in NPR the autopsy report from Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office concludes the cause of death was “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.” That conclusion, death due to heart failure, differs from the one reached by an independent examiner hired by the Floyd family; that report listed the cause of death as “asphyxiation from sustained pressure.”
So, the question for Jerome Adams is, are you sure that this could have been you? Many videos of blacks being restrained are sparked by an inappropriate action that prompts the police to respond. Not that chokeholds or neck golds are appropriate. We are simply addressing how the individuals act when approached by police.
No doubt there is a need for better police procedures to ensure the safety of individuals once they are in police custody.
When people like Mr. Adams say that this could have been him, it sends the wrong message. It means that any good morale black man is subject to having a team of police being called to take him down over a broken tail light. And that puts the wrong fear in young black men. Many of these black men are found to be on drugs or are trying to resist arrest.
The podcast ended with Adam’s addressing the safety of the protestors and reminding them to wear masks.
On the podcast, he added: “I understand the anger, the frustration, the fear and why people feel that that they need to prioritize going out and protesting … what I say to people as a physician is, if you’re going to do something, I want to help you understand your risk and … how to do it as safely as possible.”