Pope Francis prays for George Floyd, denounces violence
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Pope Francis prayed for George Floyd on Wednesday, and called for an end to the violence at the recent protests across the United States.
LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Pope Francis prayed for an end to violence in the United States related to protests over the in-custody death of George Floyd. He offered the prayers and the appeal for peace and an end to racism during his General Audience on Wednesday. He invoked the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe for all who work for peace and justice.
The United States has suffered more than a week of civil unrest following the in-custody death of George Floyd, a black American. Floyd, 46 of Minneapolis, Minnesota, was accused by a shop owner of passing a counterfeit $20 bill. It is unknown if Floyd was aware the note was fraudulent. Police responded and accused Floyd of resisting arrest, although video footage seems to show no discernible act of resistance. An officer placed the handcuffed Floyd on the ground and put his knee on his neck where he kept it for nearly nine minutes. During that time, Floyd complained of pain and an inability to breathe. He also expressed submission and a willingness to comply, however the officer did not stop kneeling on his neck. Floyd subsequently died.
Two autopsies were performed. The official autopsy claims Floyd died as a result of other conditions including the presence of drugs in his system as well as high blood pressure. A second autopsy claimed Floyd died of asphyxiation.
Regardless of the details, Floyd's death is one of many involving white citizens who have killed unarmed black citizens. Often, the killings involve police, but can also involve citizens acting as vigilantes such as in the Ahmed Aubrey shooting that took place in February.
The widespread perception is that police have a problem with racism and tend to apply harsher tactics to minorities that can sometimes be fatal. Knowing this, some citizens have recently been filmed calling police to confront black Americans for minor issues. In late May, when a black man asked a white woman to leash her dog in a public park in New York, the woman threatened to call police and accuse him of threatening her even through the man did nothing wrong. The fear is such an interaction could result in police harming or killing the man.
A result of these widespread concerns has been an explosion of protests across the United States, with some form of protest taking place in every major city and many smaller ones as well. In addition, some protests have become violent. It is unclear who is responsible for the violence, but looting and additional killings have tainted the protests.
On Monday evening, President Trump expressed willingness to deploy the regular military to put a stop to the riots. As of Tuesday night, curfews were widely ignored, but the protests were much more peaceful.
Pope Francis said during his General Audience: "I have witnessed with great concern the disturbing social unrest in your nation in these past days, following the tragic death of Mr. George Floyd. We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life."
The Holy Father then quoted Archbishop Jose Gomez, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: "At the same time, we have to recognize that 'the violence of recent nights is self-destructive and self-defeating. Nothing is gained by violence and so much is lost'."
He concluded with an appeal to intercession from Our Lady of Guadalupe: "Let us pray for the consolation of their grieving families and friends and let us implore the national reconciliation and peace for which we yearn. May Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of America, intercede for all those who work for peace and justice in your land and throughout the world."
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