My ODE to George.
The first night of your trial I stood waiting for my son to return home.
The cops showed up first after stopping him for running.
My heart jumped outside of my chest as I struggled to prepare myself for the worst.
As he does every night,
he was running
Running in his own neighborhood.
Running at night because as a black boy He knows that black men who run in the daytime get chased and murdered.
So he runs to feel freedom in the dark of the night.
Stopped just minutes from his home by four police vehicles.
That’s 4 x 2 officers approaching a 19 year old boy who wanted to run but by the grace of God stood still.
Anxiety. Heart racing. Traumatized. Sweating. Sweating. Breathing.
Refusing the courtesy ride home in the back of the police car.
He was innocent.
No apologies for being accused of fitting the description of someone who was running and not doing anything but fitting the description of every black boy profiled.
A black boy running at night.
The cops told me that he wasn’t running when they stopped him. Thank God, I thought.
Because black boys who run get murdered.
So today I feel sad for you and all of the children we’ve lost to racism.
Today I selfishly thank you.
Thank you George for your life because it may have saved the life of my son.
A black boy who just wanted to breathe fresh air.
A black boy who just wants to feel freedom.
I pray for him.
I honor You.
You couldn’t breathe but he will breathe and run and stop and take breath and return home again today
I pray .
~ M. Tonita Austin aka Toni Love
written on the second anniversary of George Floyd’s murder. 5.25.22