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African American mother's perspective on racism, violence against her community of color

Officer who knelt on Floyd's neck has been involved in other use-of-force incidents
Posted at 3:49 AM, May 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-29 09:10:45-04

PHOENIX — Vanessa Holman is a 62-year-old retired school administrator. She spoke candidly with ABC15 about the incident in Minneapolis where George Floyd, an African American man, died at the hands of police on Monday.

"It's heartbreaking, it truly is," says the mother of two grown children, Brian and Brianna, who live out of state.

"I keep asking myself, 'why do they hate us so much? What have we done? Why does the color of our skin make them hate us to the where they will kill us?'" she adds.

Holman vividly recalls the details of police brutality over the years -- when someone in communities across the country is killed by police.

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"For simply driving, for simply bird-watching getting the police called on you, for simply jogging getting the police called on you," says Holman.

She says her son Brian, who is now 35 years old, heard the talk from both her and her husband at an early age.

"We give them the story all the time from the time they are little -- if you get pulled (over), especially when they start driving, if you get pulled over by a cop, this what you do. If anything is in the glove compartment say, 'May I?' But that doesn't help anymore," says Holman.

She says the video of George Floyd on Monday, dying while a Minneapolis police officer held his knee to Floyd's neck for reportedly nine minutes, shows just how much hate exists.

"I know that not all police are bad, but the good ones, they need to stand up," Holman says. "Every day we wake up in survival mode because this may happen."

What will end the killings of African American men this way? That's the question no one can fully answer, but Holman says it's important that if you see something unjust, you need to speak up before it's too late.

"You can't relate, I think there's no way you can. I wish you could be (in) my skin for a day and maybe you could, but that's the only way," she adds.