On the 25th of May this year in a suburb of Minneapolis, George Perry Floyd was murdered by a policeman during a routine callout. That is the public perception (see update at end for more details). He wasn’t shot trying to flee. He apparently wasn’t even resisting arrest. He was instead pinned to the ground by three police officers because he was afraid and claustrophobic, pinned to the point that he was suffocated and later died of a heart attack, according to the autopsy report. And yes, he was black. It was a strange thing to have happened, though, for several reasons. The arrest and pinning, with his loss of consciousness, was recorded for posterity on two cell phones and a security camera and soon went viral. The police seemed nonchalant. The nation exploded in protests and riots as a result. The world stood in solidarity with the protests. But why has this event caused such an outpouring when people die at the hands of police nearly every day in the United States? We’ll look at why here.
We are not going to look at all the causes of the use of excessive force by police here, nor of racial factors, though those matters are quite important. Instead, we will examine two main points: 1) Why George Floyd? What was so special about his death? And 2) What is the real underlying reason for all the violence we are seeing? The answers are quite revealing.
To begin, we need to have certain figures in mind to gain some perspective on what has happened as a result of Floyd’s death. The result may not point to what you might think. American police forces killed three people per day in 2019 on average, for a total of nearly 1,100 killings. Most of those killed were by gunshot, in one year. In comparison, there were a total of 55 fatal police shootings in England and Wales in a fourteen year period to 2014. We might say that is a little bit disproportionate. Police in the US are almost never charged for the use of excessive force.
Of the 1100 people killed during police actions, 24% were black, at only 13% of the population. That is nearly double the amount by race. That’s nationwide. But it matters a great deal as to where one lives. You are far more likely to be killed by police in Oklahoma City than New York, by a large margin – by a longshot, we might say. And violent crime is not a determinative factor. In comparison, almost 50 police officers were killed in the line of duty last year and 40+ died from accidental deaths in the same vein. Of those, 40 were white, 7 were black and one was Asian.
One might expect a more even distribution of deaths by race, not to sound cold about such a high number of deaths. But even older lists show that the highest numbers of people killed by police are white, and half of those were armed. Race does play a factor in the use of excessive force (‘brutality’), but it is not the sole factor. There is something more to it.
Since 9/11, many police departments in the US have been receive training in Israel, specifically in ‘counterterrorism techniques’ and ‘large crowd control’. Why? Is domestic terrorism a large concern in the US? There has been a steady rise in the numbers of shootings by police since then. But Floyd wasn’t shot. Why does that matter? It matters because the tactic used by Chauvin in Floyd’s death is commonly used by Israeli security forces on Palestinians. Are we to be treated as the Palestinians are now? Floyd’s death was a graphic and gut-wrenching thing to watch. It is hardly surprising people are out en masse protesting. So now we get to a little astrology.
The Gray Lady had this to say about the ensuing protests about Floyd’s death:
Protests have erupted in at least 140 cities across the United States [all 50 states now] in the days after George Floyd, a black man, died in police custody. Some of the demonstrations have turned violent, prompting the activation of the National Guard in at least 21 states.
The following map illustrates it:
“Died in police custody”…Let’s have a closer look at that. George Floyd was confronted after the police received a call about his allegedly attempting to buy a pack of cigarettes with a fake $20 bill. The police scanner audio stated that Floyd was drunk and not in control of himself. The officer who pinned his neck to the ground, Chauvin, had 17 complaints against him in past incidents. At 8:25 PM Floyd lost consciousness. Five minutes later, Chauvin took his knee off Floyd’s neck. The knee to the neck is a move that is banned in most police departments. Minneapolis police policy clearly states that such a move is only warranted if a person is actively resisting arrest.
There was no evidence that Floyd was resisting arrest, especially after losing consciousness. Floyd was pronounced dead at around 9:25 PM after cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital (the official story line) in the ambulance. Minneapolis authorities fired all four police officers who were at the scene of the arrest and charged Chauvin with manslaughter and murder.
The timeline of the violence against Floyd (it was non-violent before then) runs, thus, from 8:20 to his death pronouncement at 9:25. Thereby, to establish a chart for the incident, it was fairly routine until just before 8:20, when Floyd was thereafter pinned to the ground by three of the officers and started to complain that he couldn’t breathe. He lost consciousness shortly thereafter. The chart for the incident is below (bigger):
A bit of background will help to explain the chart.
George Floyd, like so many millions of others, was a casualty of the COVID-19 epidemic, in that he had lost his job due to the pandemic lockdowns. He had been a restaurant security guard for five years prior to losing his job. He was described as a ‘gentle giant’, ‘a big teddy bear’, who liked to see people happy. He was 46 when he died. He was born in Fayetteville, NC on 14 Oct 1973 (no time of day, chart).
Without a time of birth it is more difficult to show death in a chart, but there is one direction that shows it pretty clearly, the direction Neptune=Sun/Uranus: “In isolated cases disintegration of the body, death.” That midpoint structure is one of the ‘death combinations’. It also shows unexpected events connected with water, in this case alcohol. At the same time, the ‘death axis’ (Mars/Saturn midpoint) was directed to his Sun and square to the directed Neptune (chart). That combination is a feature in his natal chart, described thus:
“Weak vitality, an insufficient power to tackle resistance or any obstacles in one’s path-way of life. – Waning powers and weakening efforts, self-torment, the undermining of the vitality (through poison, gas or an epidemic). – A mysterious death, a grievous and grave loss.”
And when coupled with the Sun, which rules vitality anyway, the picture at the time of his death and the circumstances surrounding it are pretty clear:
“Weak vitality, the inability to meet all demands or to master all situations, the necessity to overcome illness. – The illness or the death of members of the male population.”
The officer, Derek Chauvin, who is charged with his murder, was born on 19 Mar 1976 in Minneapolis (chart, no birth time). The 3rd degree murder charge carries a maximum penalty of 25 years, and is described as, “Murder – 3rd Degree – Perpetrating Eminently Dangerous Act and Evincing Depraved Mind” Emphasis added. A full description of the events of the incident are given in the complaint lodged with the court (linked at birth date, previous).
Given this background, the event chart shows confusion and/or deception regarding the event, indicated by Neptune on the IC of the event chart. The violence of the event is shown by the Sun/Mars square, with Mars conjunct Ceres, showing that this event marked some sort of a violent turning point, referring to a part of the Ceres myth – ‘wailing at the crossroads’. It was a punishing event, too, involving enforcement, shown by the Mars/Ceres opposition to Orcus.
The event was splattered all across the media, having been recorded by a security camera and cell phones, shown by the 3rd/9th house emphasis with the Mars/Pluto opposition in that axis. The event aroused international interest, too (9th house). But there was something that was not correct or was misguided in terms of the police, shown by the Venus/Neptune square in the chart, Venus ruling the 6th house (police and services in general).
Questions are being asked, as to why the police maintained their positions, knowing they were being filmed, and especially after Floyd had lost consciousness. It seems rather odd and out of character. Further, there was no rush or effort to try to revive Floyd once he stopped responding. Chauvin’s actions, or lack thereof, could be seen as acts of provocation, which would be consistent with the Sun/Mars square. If so, what was he seeking to provoke?
Venus is retrograde in the event chart too, and is out of bounds, as is Mercury, adding to the heightened scrutiny the event provoked, as well as the offense to people’s ethics, which the combination of Mercury and Venus emphasizes. The two were in parallel aspect at the event, too.
The fire department was called to the scene, normal in cases of cardiac arrest, but there was a miscommunication and they arrived after Floyd had already been taken to hospital by ambulance. Police on the scene could not find a pulse prior to the ambulance arriving (see court complaint), the implication being the police at the scene knew Floyd was dead already and were simply going through the motions. The public at the scene were outraged by what they witnessed, which leads to the event being set against the backdrop of current tensions in the US.
The event chart set against the US chart shows the following (below, bigger):
Floyd’s death was a turning point for the US, too, with the US having just had a Ceres return with Mars in attendance. That was also in an approaching square to the US Horizon. The event Sun was approaching the US Uranus, in the 6th house (police, services and national Guard), also squared by the Mars/Ceres in the event chart. It was a charged situation. Then, things start to get a little murky.
The MC of the event chart is conjunct the US Neptune, with transiting Neptune opposite. In turn, the event (transiting) Neptune is square the US Mars, suggesting a nefarious or misguided use of force. Mars rules the 4th, 5th and 12th houses in the US chart. The 4th house rules the general populace and infrastructure, as well as opposition parties. The 12th house rules the secret services, secret enemies of the state, and large institutions. Just these two emphases together show the confusion and chaos that ensued in the US after the fact (along with the solar transit to the US Uranus) and it has enflamed passions all around. It also might suggest there was more to the incident than a simple callout and arrest. Speculation regarding the latter is useless at this point.
There are a few points to note about something being ‘off’ about the violence:
- Pallets of bricks appearing mysteriously in the middle of streets far from construction zones. What a find! It was clearly a set-up.
- Water bottles filled with gasoline and other accelerants magically appearing in bushes and throughout neighborhoods
- People driving around offering black people bricks to throw (look at the whole thread. There are other items of interest, too)
Otherwise, the Moon in the event chart is on the US Sun. The Moon rules the US 8th house (death, transformation and revolution). The Sun rules leaders in general. That can also be read as ‘the public meeting the leaders’. Protestors appeared at the White House in large numbers, to the point where there was concern for Trump’s safety and he was taken to a bunker under the White House and the lights in the White House were turned off. That was quite a symbolic turn of events.
Then, on June 1st, after his law-and-order speech in the Rose Garden, the police tear gassed and cleared protesters from in front of the church across from the White House so he could have his photo-op, Bible in hand. Neither his speech nor his photo-op went down very well:
“He did not pray,” said Mariann E. Budde, the Episcopal bishop of Washington. “He did not mention George Floyd, he did not mention the agony of people who have been subjected to this kind of horrific expression of racism and white supremacy for hundreds of years.”
We might suppose the church event was supposed to be quite symbolic, somehow. It wasn’t seen that way in general. In fact, it was seen as pandering to evangelicals, crucial to his last election. There is much more we could parse, but there is a wider point to be explored here.
Like the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns and so forth, Floyd’s killing was a catalytic spark. The killing was one that has provoked wide violence across the nation. Transiting Mars to the Horizon of any nation can indicate violence, but it is usually short-lived. However, the rioting that came out of the protests and the sheer number of them have prompted governors in many states to call out their National Guards to tamp down the violence. And that has given many people cause to think that this is all being staged as a sort of practice run for martial law across the nation and/or for cancelling the elections in November. Such riots are not without precedent, though. In fact there is a long list of riots across the US throughout US history.
The current riots started peacefully, but were soon co-opted by violent factions. The following aspects of the riots are in play:
- People have engaged in peaceful protests. There have been many such.
- People have engaged in lawless looting.
- Provocateurs have committed acts of vandalism and sometimes carry umbrellas.
- Antifa exists. The original Antifa was a Jewish anti-Nazi militia. Trump blames the current one for the violence, but evidence suggests otherwise. Designating them as a terrorist group is a political stunt and a very slippery slope, which would lead to further infringement of rights.
- Boogaloo Bois and similar right wing groups have appeared in and agitated for these protests
- Looters come in all shades and sizes, some taking things they need and others taking things they want.
- The Covid-19 rationale for using contract tracing is now being used for tracing of people arrested in the protests.
- Policy infrastructure for enacting martial law has been a long-term, bi-partisan project.
- The police have more than once instigated the violence in these protests. There are now moves to begin stopping transfers of military equipment to police forces.
All of the above points are true, but people are often vested in their own narratives. The looting is affecting the most vulnerable and the innocent, but it is the reality of American society when projected onto the world stage, little as we may want to admit it. Plundering, looting and destroying have been the modus operandi of US military invasions and corporate takeovers after the fact for the nation since its founding. And the elites in the US have systematically looted the public purse to the detriment of the populace for decades now. Those same elites loot the world via the US military, and the looters we see in these protests are acting out that aspect of the American shadow.
What we are seeing is the result of mass frustration, due to years of stagnating wages, racial profiling, disenfranchisement racial and societal, being sold a dream that hardly turns out to be the reality and having to go deeply into debt to have it. Given that level of frustration, some people riot for riot’s sake, venting. The media is complicit, never addressing class divides, always emphasizing supposed ‘outside extremist elements inciting the violence’, with nary a hint of evidence to support such claims. The disengagement from politics, i.e. simply sitting down across the table between vying factions and actually talking, has given way to overt, entrenched and endemic factionalism.
Then, to top off all the preceding, the US and UK in particular have seen a loss of religion in recent decades (i.e., higher ethics), which has been replaced with a fundamentalist, anti-science, post-fact power base – the so-called ‘religious right’, which is most often strongly Zionist and touts law and order instead of asking before acting, “What would Jesus do?”. This is not to say there are no genuinely religious people in the US and UK. They are there in their millions. But, their voices are currently side-lined and drowned out. Religion has become a tool of power to affect election results and to support vested interests in the US rather than feeding the human soul. The US in particular needs restoration of the pillars of true higher ethics, rather than its religious dead letter.
Given all the preceding, it is not difficult to see why many Americans saw the COVID-19 lockdowns as an assault on their freedoms and the coronavirus pandemic as a hoax. Few people knew anyone who was ill. There was a massive campaign of disinformation, a trail of supposed experts touting their favoured remedies for the situation. And then there are over 40 million people suddenly finding themselves out of a job, with little or no savings and a single paltry government check and only limited unemployment insurance, if they could get it.
The pandemic was no hoax. Living in northern Italy, I can vouch for that. But it was in fact badly handled by the Trump administration which instead rewarded the rich and stockholders while emptying the pockets of the populace instead of protecting them in a timely manner. As a result, we see not only an increasingly troubled President, but also an increasingly desperate sector of the populace as well, about to get even more so as the unemployment checks run out and the foreclosures and repossessions start because people cannot pay their bills. It makes for a very combustive mix.
The response by the administration and the Congress to the protests and violence has been predictable. It has been quickly seized upon for political gain, with calls for martial law – there is a clue for the rioters – by Trump and the more reactionary people in Congress, like Tom Cotton and Lindsay Graham. They go even further and try to paint the riots as domestic terrorism, which could be used to justify martial law.
Trump has gone so far as to threaten to send federal troops into states to quell the violence, slamming mostly Democratic governors for not acting harshly enough. Those governors have refused such ‘help’. And even the ‘Russian card’ has been thrown into the mix by Susan Rice. The Russians need only sit back with the popcorn, or whatever they eat during a film or spectacle. They have known for some time the US was failing, without their intervention. Comments like hers are as useless as they are silly.
The international community is standing in solidarity with the protesters, calling out racism in the US and chanting, “Black lives matter!” And they are aghast at calls for troops and martial law in the US. Nations like Iran, North Korea and China (on social media) are scolding the Beltway for its hypocrisy. It is indeed ironic that protests in Hong Kong and Tehran are cheered on by US politicians, when they instead call for martial law in their own nation. The Chinese on social media are calling the Floyd protests, “A beautiful sight to behold”, mocking Nancy Pelosi. What’s good for the goose…, as the saying goes.
When we get to the root causes of the riots and protests, then, what might those be? Here is a short list:
- Neoliberal capitalism – the root cause, which has led to,
- The ever-widening wealth gap, which needs no explanation. That has led to austerity for the majority, stagnant wages, no job security, cuts to social services and consumer protections (a.k.a. regulations), the gig economy and ever-increasing debt loads for households, to name just a few things. Also, we have,
- Institutional racism, in the form of disparities regarding wealth, income, criminal justice, employment, housing, health care, political power and education, among other factors.
- A heavily propagandized corporate media which toes party and establishment lines
- Increasing censorship and surveillance
- Government disconnected from and unresponsive to the people
We could go on, but perhaps we get the idea.
One of the great values of the COVID-19 pandemic has been that it has served to expose all the weaknesses and inequalities in government and society. If we think the situation in the US is bad enough now, the months ahead will only get worse. Articles in alternative media have been appearing for years now saying there may be a civil war in the US. That remains to be seen. If there were to be a large internal conflict, though, it would be a class war rather than a race war, for all the reasons above. And if the astrology of the US is any indicator, such an event could come as early as next year. That’s another story, for later.
For now, the current riots will die down over the coming days. The protests may well continue. But the underlying causes of the riots will only become worse. We have been here before, with the Civil Rights protests in the ‘60s and the anti-war protests in the ‘70s. Only sustained public pressure will change anything. We face a choice in the US, either to abandon the trajectory that has brought us to this crossroads and choose a more equitable path, which would probably involve a revolution at some point (across the Western world, really) or to further turbo-charge the economy, as seems to be the evolving trend, and face an even bigger crash and event in the near future. Revolutions can be non-violent, too. And it would not be far off.
There has been speculation that these riots, should they continue or if there is another wave of the coronavirus, could see the US elections halted. There are two schools of thought on that, one saying Trump would pronounce a national emergency and try to hold on to the office, or another which says that the unelected state would sabotage the elections, leaving the nation leaderless. Anything would go, then. Both scenarios would amount to a coup, however, and frankly such a thing does not show in the US chart. If there is to be trouble for the government it will likely come in the 2nd quarter of next year.
I have heard comments suggesting the violence is justified, some going so far as to cite the Hong Kong riots as being similar – a fight for ‘freedom and democracy’ and ‘against oppression’. Here’s a bit of irony – the Hong Kong protesters are offering tips to American protesters on how to handle police. Hong Kong is about to get rather interesting, too. It’s an interesting thing, the latter. The Hong Kong riots have not been about freedom and democracy, and comments about ‘freedom fighters’ there display ignorance about what is going on in Hong Kong, its relationship with the mainland and the real nature of the Chinese government. There is a strong element of racism in the Hong Kong riots, too.
And as for black lives mattering, there is hypocrisy there, as well, because there have been many black stores and properties smashed, looted and burned. Most black comment I have seen decries the rioting and wants it to stop. One protester summarized the current situation well by calling on the violent factions and looters to stop, saying his dream was to be able to walk into a white neighbourhood, unmolested and treated as a human being instead of ‘a black’. He further went on to say that the violence was only hurting the cause.
This episode in the US is showing the true face of America to the rest of the world. It is the sort of thing Americans would see in another country, cheer on the fight for reform and democracy there and offer to “stand with the people of _____” (fill in the nation).
Many comments and articles point to the US being a failed state. It clearly has a failed economy which no longer supports the people. The pandemic affected the communities of color worse than the white communities, and largely for economic reasons. I grew up in a town where blacks lived ‘across the tracks’, in poor housing and depressed economic conditions. As far as I know, it still exists that way. I had friends who lived there and I went to school with them. If ‘all men are created equal’, then here is yet another opportunity for Americans to demonstrate that ideal. And that applies to class as well as race and gender. Rest in peace, George Perry Floyd, gentle giant. Your death has not been in vain.
Update: As of 4 June, all four police officers involved in Floyd’s death have been charged with murder or accessory to murder. Chauvin’s charge has been upgraded to 2nd degree murder, which carries a maximum sentence of forty years. Protesters have said they are not interested in charges. They know full well the police will probably get off lightly [As of 25 Aug, he is still awaiting trial, with additional charges added.] if they are even convicted. After the autopsy report on Floyd was made public, it is doubtful the police will be convicted of murder, as there is no evidence the arrest procedure caused his death directly. There were extenuating pre-existing conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, and there were fentanyl and methamphetamines in his blood. However, had the arrest procedure been less violent and prolonged, George Floyd might have lived. Who can say? According to an account by a police officer viewing the body cam footage, the arrest and procedure was textbook, and gave a viewpoint from the police.
What is important is the public perception of the arrest and subsequent reaction to his death, as well as the view of the police regarding such events. There is always more than one side, and what is developing appears to be an intractable stance from both sides — protesters and police alike.
As for the more nefarious aspects of the events, the bricks showing up on streets, now known to be across the nation, indicate a more central planning with the aim of stoking instability and aiding looting. Pallets of bricks require a forklift to be moved, a piece of machinery not readily available to the average protester. Reports from New York and Chicago are that U-Haul trucks are pulling up in front of stores to be looted, preceded by carloads of people being dropped off with power tools and the like, and coordinated by people on walkie-talkies. People who follow international developments might note this all has a sense of deva-vu, as in an ‘American Maidan’, or maybe an internal color revolution. The looting bears the stamp of organized crime. What is clear is that the peaceful protests are being hijacked by people with other agendas, with the latter being coordinated. More as further facts emerge.
Featured pic from CNN
2 Replies to “The George Floyd riots: A closer look (Updated 4 June at end)”
Reports in yesterday’s Guardian show leaders and ordinary protesters stating “the police are NOT the problem, the system is. Protesters very clearly disassociate themselves from looters. The march is peaceful and the police stand by or walk along side the protest and there is no violence.
That would be true now. Initially there were videos of police stoking violence along with many other people. Since then, cooler heads prevail as the protests progress. In general, the local communities and police do a good job and are conscientious. And also in general the protests are peaceful. There was an initial flush or explosion of frustration and anger that has since died down. Now that transiting Mars has moved off the square to the US horizon, peace is the order of the day.