"I have never seen a man die on camera… until I saw George Floyd."
LOS ANGELES - A year after Floyd’s death, and the boisterous calls for social justice that emerged in its aftermath, radio host Cece Valencia and an array of voices are reflecting on the first time they saw the now-infamous video of his killing.
The discussion is all part of FOX 11’s new five-part docuseries Rising Up.
Floyd died May 25, 2020, after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for roughly nine minutes. Chauvin, who has since been found guilty of Floyd’s murder, had been called to the scene after reports of a "forgery in progress."
"I know a lot of times people think of journalists as being objective, and we do try to be as objective as we can in situations. But we’re also human," Good Day LA host Tony McEwing said. "I was absolutely disgusted and horrified."
McEwing wasn’t alone in that sentiment.
"I had to watch it in segments, and I still didn’t watch the whole entire thing because it was too much for me to process," remembered Lora King, the daughter of the late Rodney King, who in 1991 was beaten by a group of LAPD officers.
More than 30 years since her father’s beating was caught on tape, King admitted that watching the Floyd tape wore on her "mentally and physically."
While King was reminded of her own father, others' faces were brought to the fore as some watched Floyd dying on the street.
"Unfortunately, it wasn’t that much unlike when I first heard Philando Castile’s name, and Michael Brown’s name, Tamir Rice’s name," said Good Day LA’s Michaela Pereira.
"I saw Trayvon," echoed Zeeshan Khan, a protester, "[Floyd] cried for his mother. He cried for his mother, and his mother was dead. That gave me chills, even just speaking about it right now, I’m getting chills."
For Melina Abdullah, founder of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, the Floyd tape was a different type of reminder. While some saw past victims of police brutality in Floyd’s face, Abdullah instead saw America’s original sin in the face of Chauvin.
"I remember feeling like, you know, he’s absolutely summoning the evil of his predecessors… I could see slave catchers in his face," Abdullah said. "And I remember thinking, we’re watching the slow murder of this man, of this brother."
"Why not lift your knee off this man’s neck? It didn’t make sense to me," said Civil Rights Attorney Leo Terrell, who further emphasized the "universal outrage" experienced in the aftermath of Floyd’s death, as "it changed the entire perspective of police misconduct" among people of all political parties, demographic backgrounds, and even those in law enforcement.
One of those outraged members of law enforcement was Officer Ryan Tillman of the Chino Police Department.
"I remember, specifically, laying in bed, watching the video of the officer, Derek Chauvin, with his knee on George Floyd’s back for over eight minutes, and not moving, as George Floyd pleaded for his life," Tillman said. "It made me feel, for a split second in time, ashamed to wear the badge and carry the gun that I have on my hip."
Ultimately, the video led radio host Romeo Mastin on the search for answers.
"I thought I’ve seen it all. I thought my grandparents had seen it all. I thought we were past things like this… So there’s anger, there’s sadness, there’s frustration, there’s confusion," Mastin said. "I have family, I have friends, that are police officers, so I want to ask questions to them: how did we get to this point?"
Rising Up is a five-part docuseries produced by FOX 11 that examines the death of George Floyd, the protests that occurred in response, and the important, sometimes uncomfortable, conversations surrounding race, policing, activism, and the future of America, that have taken place since.
The series features interviews with Rev. Al Sharpton, Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), LAPD Chief Michel Moore, FOX 11 anchors Elex Michaelson and Christine Devine, and some two dozen other journalists, activists, academics, and protesters.
Rising Up airs nightly at 6:00 PM PST from May 24 through May 28, and is also available anytime on Tubi, FOX Soul, NewsNow, FOXLA.com, and YouTube.
For more information and exclusive content, go to foxla.com/risingup.