More in El Paso sign up for anti-racism course following the death of George Floyd, Minneapolis riots

El Paso News

A chain portrait of George Floyd is part of the memorial for him, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, near the site of the arrest of Floyd who died in police custody Monday night in Minneapolis after video shared online by a bystander showed a white officer kneeling on his neck during his arrest as he pleaded that he couldn’t breathe. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Minneapolis is about 1,391 miles away from El Paso. However, seeing everything that’s unfolded as a result of George Floyd’s death has some wondering what they can do wherever they live.

“Let that resonate with you and stay with you and then use that feeling to not only educate yourself but inflame your passions to enact change and we see that here in El Paso,” said Michael Vinson Williams the Director of African American Studies at UTEP.

Floyd, 46, was arrested Monday after an employee at a grocery store called police to accuse him of trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill. The cellphone video shows Floyd, who is black, face-down on the ground with his hands cuffed behind his back, as officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, uses the knee restraint on his neck.

Floyd’s head is turned to the side and he does not appear to be resisting. As the minutes tick by and Chauvin continues to hold him down, Floyd’s complaints about not being able to breathe stop as he falls silent and motionless. Toward the end of the video, paramedics arrive, lift a limp Floyd onto a stretcher and place him in an ambulance.

Williams says the arrest in Minneapolis which led to George Floyd’s death can happen anywhere.

“There are issues that are going on here in El Paso too, in terms of immigration and how people are treated in that space, that people are still addressing with. We have to also band together on all these issues that we see,” said Williams.

Williams has advice on how people can get involved.

“Educate ourselves on the issues, learn as much as we can about it and figure out how we can use our talents, how we can use our passions,” said Williams.

Which is something many El Pasoans are now doing.

The Diversity and Resiliency Institute of El Paso says from May 25 to May 29 more than 120 people have joined their online anti-racism course.

“It has, once again, reignited that outrage in a very intense manner and more and more people are signing up,” said Ashley Heidebrecht with the Diversity and Resiliency Institute of El Paso.

“Just after all the events that have transpired over this last week, I decided that I had to sign up, that it was no longer enough for me just to love my neighbor or having that foundation of believing in equality,” said Sara Harrison, an El Pasoan taking the online course.

Those who have completed the course say it helps them better understand the situation in Minnesota.

“We talked about non-racism being inadequate it’s not enough to be non-racist in our society in our country we must be anti-racist, which means you have to be proactive,” said Mauricio Rodriguez who finished the course.

Organizers say people’s interest in recent events has increased demand for the online course, which is why the training has been extended.

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