'The World Is Messed Up:' One LA Neighborhood Reflects On George Floyd's Death, The Pandemic, And Pain

Jean Rucker believes that what happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis was terrible and that she wouldn't receive the same treatment as the officers if she'd been the one charged. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

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By Robert Garrova and Chava Sanchez

The death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis this week, and the ensuing protests and riots around the U.S., have become top of mind for millions of Americans, even as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rip through the country.

Floyd's killing comes at a time when communities of color are reeling from the coronavirus pandemic — including African Americans, who in L.A. County and elsewhere are dying from COVID-19 at a rate that outpaces their share of the population. Communities of color have also suffered disproportional job losses due to the economic fallout. Floyd, in fact, had lost his job to the coronavirus crisis.

Floyd died Monday night after police officer Derek Chauvin pinned his neck to the pavement for almost nine minutes. Police detailned him after a report that someone had tried to pay for a purchase with a fake $20 bill.

It is the most recent in a long string of killings of black men, including the February shooting of Ahmaud Arbery while he was jogging in Georgia. Two white men, a father and son who claimed they were trying to make a citizen's arrest, have since been charged with Arbery's murder after video of the shooting became public.

Wearing a mask as she went about her day in front of Crenshaw Plaza, Jean Rucker talked about how she felt about Chauvin, who along with three other police officers was fired from his job and has now been charged with third-degree murder in connection with Floyd's death.

Rucker did not mince words — she was angry: "That was just terrible. They're fired? They should be executed. Had that been me — and I'm not a cop — they would have threw me under the jail and hung me the next day. It's so sad."

Donzella Taylor believes what happened in Minneapolis is terrible but she hasn't been able to reflect on it much because she's been dealing with her own tragedy: she said her son was removed from her care and placed in the foster system. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Just up the street on her way to the post office, Donzella Taylor said she was taking things day by day. She said she was more worried about her son — who she said was taken into foster care — than coronavirus. But she had put some thought into the news of protests and rioting in Minneapolis, which she didn't agree with.

"They shouldn't act like that," Taylor said. "They should just let the authorities handle it, it's not going to solve anything."

Joelle Earle who co-owns Earle's on Crenshaw says the first thing on his mind every morning this week has been the death of George Floyd. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Joelle Earle, co-owner of the hot dog place Earle's on Crenshaw, was shoveling down his lunch, wearing a Earle's t-shirt. Earle said he's bracing for an economic downturn from the coronavirus crisis, along the lines of the Great Recession of the late 2000s.

"We're still trying to recover from that," Earle said. "And I mean this, the coronavirus, this is unprecedented."

As for the protests in Minneapolis and the death of George Floyd, he said, the underlying problems have always been there — coronavirus has just taken our attention away for a while.

"Now we remember that the world is messed up," Earle said. "It always was that way, it's just now you're hearing about again as life is somewhat returning to normal."

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