Musicians have called for justice for George Floyd and given their support to the Black Lives Matter movement as protests continue to rage across the US.
Floyd, 46, died in Minneapolis last Monday (May 25) following an altercation with police officers. Floyd, who was African American, was killed when a white police officer appeared to kneel on his neck as he lay on the ground during an arrest. Former police officer Derek Chauvin has since been sacked and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
Rihanna spoke of the “devastation, anger [and] sadness” that she’s felt since Floyd was killed last week. “Watching my people get murdered and lynched day after day pushed me to a heavy place in my heart,” she wrote on Instagram on Saturday (May 30).
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For the last few days, the magnitude of devastation, anger, sadness I’ve felt has been overwhelming to say the least! Watching my people get murdered and lynched day after day pushed me to a heavy place in my heart! To the point of staying away from socials, just to avoid hearing the blood curdling agony in George Floyd’s voice again, begging over and over for his life!!! The look of enticement, the pure joy and climax on the face of this bigot, murderer, thug, pig, bum, Derek Chauvin, haunts me!! I can’t shake this! I can’t get over an ambulance pulling up to an arrest, a paramedic checking a pulse without removing the very thing that’s hindering it! Is this that fucking normal??? If intentional MURDER is the fit consequence for “drugs” or “resisting arrest”….then what’s the fit consequence for MURDER???! #GeorgeFloyd #AhmaudArbery #BreonnaTaylor
Rihanna continued: “To the point of staying away from socials, just to avoid hearing the blood curdling agony in George Floyd’s voice again, begging over and over for his life!!! The look of enticement, the pure joy and climax on the face of this bigot, murderer, thug, pig, bum, Derek Chauvin, haunts me!! I can’t shake this!”
“And it felt like that cop had his knee on all of our necks, meaning black men. And yeah, it’s extremely painful. It’s extremely painful because it keeps going on. It continues to go on and it’s like, ‘What can we do? Or what do we need to do to make this thing stop? What is supposed to happen to make this thing stop? It has to stop. What the… is supposed to happen?’”
Elsewhere, Beyoncé said in a self-filmed Instagram video: “We need justice for George Floyd. We all witnessed his murder in broad daylight…We’re broken and we’re disgusted. We cannot normalise this pain”.
Jay-Z issued a statement through Roc Nation after speaking to Minnesota Governor Tim Walz about seeking justice for Floyd’s death. “I am more determined to fight for justice than any fight my would-be oppressors may have,” the rapper said.
Killer Mike made an impassioned speech on Friday night (May 29) urging black people to “beat up” officers at the polls instead of wholly resorting to violence.
The whole country needs to stop right now and listen to Killer Mike. He’s verbalizing what a lot of us don’t know how to express pic.twitter.com/yiBEaicRGT
— ment (@mentnelson) May 30, 2020
Cardi B posted a video earlier this week in which she said she felt like change is finally happening. “Seeing people looting and going extremely outraged, it makes me feel like, ‘Yes, finally, finally, motherfuckers are gonna hear us now’.” And while she doesn’t “want people to get hurt” in the protests, she understands that peaceful demos don’t cut through.
She also encouraged her followers to vote – not just in the forthcoming presidential election but locally, too. “We can vote for mayors, we can vote for judges and we can also vote for DAs – district attorneys,” she said. “The people that are voting for these people are most likely cops, most likely rednecks, that’s why every time that some fucked shit like this happens, it goes in their favour.”
— iamcardib (@iamcardib) May 29, 2020
Harry Styles took to Twitter on Saturday (May 30) to express solidarity with the black community, noting his white privilege. “I do things every day without fear, because I am privileged, and I am privileged every day because I am white,” he wrote. “Being not racist is not enough, we must be anti racist. Social change is enacted when a society mobilises. I stand in solidarity with all of those protesting.”
I do things every day without fear, because I am privileged, and I am privileged every day because I am white.
Being not racist is not enough, we must be anti racist.
Social change is enacted when a society mobilizes.
I stand in solidarity with all of those protesting. pic.twitter.com/45MSXAWEJl
— Harry Styles. (@Harry_Styles) May 30, 2020
Elsewhere, Mariah Carey posted a video in which she addressed Floyd’s death.
“I wrote this song for my first album. Still looking for answers today,” she wrote in a caption alongside her singing a snippet of her 1990 song ‘There’s Got to Be a Way’. ‘We have to make a change. We can’t be silent. #BlackLivesMatter ‘Text ‘FLOYD’ to 55156 to demand #JusticeForFloyd 🎵 I don’t understand how there can be regulated bigotry. There’s got to be a way to connect this world today 🎵’
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I wrote this song for my first album. Still looking for answers today. We have to make a change. We can't be silent. #BlackLivesMatter Text 'FLOYD' to 55156 to demand #JusticeForFloyd 🎵 I don't understand how there can be regulated bigotry There's got to be a way to connect this world today 🎵
Lady Gaga yesterday (May 31) shared her views on the matter and in doing so branded President Donald Trump a “racist” and a “fool” for “fuelling a system that is already rooted in racism”.
She continued: “The voices of the black community have been silenced for too long and that silence has proven deadly time and time again. And no matter what they do to protest, they are still met with no compassion by the leaders that are meant to protect them. Everyday people in America are racist, that’s a fact. Right now is a critical time for the black community to be supported by all other communities so we can put a stop to something that is intrinsically wrong by the grace of God or whatever creator you do or do not believe in.”
— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) May 31, 2020
Taylor Swift, too, used her platform to take aim at Trump, whom she accused of “inciting violence” when he sent a Tweet calling protesters “thugs” and suggested the military could shoot at protestors.
Bon Iver has led a $30,000 (£24,000) fundraising effort in support of the George Floyd Memorial Fund, the Minnesota Freedom Fund and Reclaim The Block. “A police state cannot fix what a police state has broken”, he wrote on Friday (May 29).
Meanwhile, Billie Eilish used her platform to denounce those pushing for “all lives matter”. In an impassioned post shared on Saturday (May 30), the 18-year-old pop star wrote: “If I hear one more white person say ‘all lives matter’ one more fucking time I’m gonna lose my fucking mind.
“If all lives matter, why are black people killed for just being black? Why are white people given opportunities that people of other races aren’t?”
Normani took to Instagram today (June 1) to post a lengthy and powerful statement on her views, saying that “my community is in the grieving phase of anger.”
“I have experienced denial and now I am filled with RAGE, but let me tell you that I will not enter the bargaining, depression or the acceptance stage of grief,” she continued.
“I refuse. We will only take receipt of a justice system that is built to protect our lives too. We will only accept a government that has our best interests at heart too. We will we be seen as who we are. I am not here for your entertainment. I am not some animal in a cage that you put on display and praise for being articulate but turn around and hunt me for sport.
“I. AM. A. BLACK. WOMAN.”
Travis Scott also made a statement on Instagram on June 1, calling for nationwide police reform to be implemented.
“… There are almost no words that I can think of to properly express, or I can use to suppress, this enraged feeling of us continuously losing our brothers and sisters to brutality at the hands of officers, or anyone with misguided intentions for our well-being,” the Houston rapper wrote.
“The rage that we are feeling is from direct personal experience and the constant pain of wanting our voices to be heard. To be seen as equal and human, too. We have to change and reform police policy in our U.S. cities, and there needs to be accountability immediately! Especially when officers abuse power to the point where it callously takes a life.”
Janelle Monáe and Ice Cube were some of the first musicians who asked why the officer(s) involved in the Floyd incident weren’t initially charged. “I’m tired of talking. We need action NOW. Fucking furious,” Monáe wrote online.
Protests are expected to continue this week across major cities in the US including Minneapolis, Atlanta, New York and LA. Demonstrations were also held in London over the weekend in support of Black Lives Matter and #justiceforgeorgefloyd.