George, an unarmed black man, died whilst being arrested by police outside a shop in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on 25 May.
In viral video footage taken by a bystander, a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, can be seen kneeling on the 46-year-old’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, whilst pinning him to the ground. ‘I can’t breathe…please stop,’ were his last words but the police officer continued to choke him until he lost consciousness. He died in hospital an hour later.
George Floyd’s brutal killing has brought to light a much deeper issue about the deeply engrained systemic racism felt across the world, with people standing up across the globe to say enough is enough.
Actor John Boyega is one of the high-profile names at the forefront, making a passionate address at an anti-racism demonstration in Hyde Park, that he admitted was ‘risking his career’.
‘Look, I don’t know if I’m going to have a career after this, but fuck that,’ he announced as part of his emotional speech.
‘Black lives have always mattered,’ Boyega told the crowd. ‘We have always been important. We have always meant something. We have always succeeded regardless. And now is the time. I ain’t waiting.’
He continued: ‘We are a physical representation of our support for George Floyd. We are a physical representation of our support for Sandra Bland. We are a physical representation of our support for Trayvon Martin. We are a physical representation of our support for Stephen Lawrence.
‘Today is about innocent people who were halfway through their process. We don’t know what George Floyd could have achieved, we don’t know what Sandra Bland could have achieved, but today we’re going to make sure that won’t be an alien thought to our young ones.
‘I need you to understand how painful this shit is. I need you to understand how painful it is to be reminded every day that your race means nothing and that isn’t the case any more, that was never the case any more.’
Despite Boyega admitting the risk to his career in speaking the truth, with some high profile names’ careers tragically suffering due to their speaking out, Hollywood has stood with him.
‘I would work with John Boyega and I urge other Non-Black creators to affirm that they have his back as well,’ director Matthew A Cherry posted to his Twitter. This went on to prompt an outpouring of support.
‘You KNOW that as long as I’m allowed to keep working, I’ll always be begging to work with you,’ posted Boyega’s director in his Star Wars films, J.J. Abrams. ‘Deep respect and love, my friend.’
Olivia Wilde added: ‘Absolutely. I would be honored to work with @JohnBoyega and can only hope to have the chance. We’ve got your back, John. Don’t hold back.’
‘I would crawl through a barrel of broken glass to have John Boyega even so much as *glance* at one of my scripts,’ announced Charlie Brooker.
And Edgar Wright stated: ‘Have before and would again, in a heartbeat. So proud of John today.’
Keep it up John Boyega – Hollywood has your back.