Two Years After George Floyd, And I Still Can’t Breathe!

Leonhard Lenz, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Written by Guy Nave

I’m a Professor of Religion at a small liberal arts college in Decorah, Iowa. The name of the college is Luther College.

One year ago on April 19, 2021, I gave a chapel talk entitled, “I Can’t Breath.” The talk made connections between the trial of Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer responsible for the murder of George Floyd, the first century political murder of Jesus of Nazareth, and some of my own personal experiences in Minneapolis and at Luther College.

While I had somewhat forgotten about that chapel talk, someone posted a comment on my FB page recently saying,

One year later, this still hits hard, especially given current events in Grand Rapids. Thank you again, Guy Nave.

On April 4, 2022 Patrick Lyoya was shot in the back of the head by a Grand Rapids, Michigan police officer during a traffic stop. In response to community demands for transparency and accountability, officials released brutal bodycam footage showing the police officer kneeling on Patrick’s back and murdering him, execution-style.

One year after the conviction of ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for murdering George Floyd, we find ourselves witnessing another brutal police murder of another unarmed black man as an unidentified officer kneeled on Patrick Lyoya and shot him in the back of the head.

Patrick Lyoya should be alive today!

Killing of Patrick Lyoya protest 13 April 2022; WMrapids, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

After listening to the chapel talk I gave one year ago, I share it here. It explains why I could not breathe then and why (especially in the aftermath of the recent police murder of Patrick Lyoya) I still find it hard to breathe today.

                                        Luther College Chapel, Apr 16, 2021, The Rev. Dr. Guy Nave

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About the author

Guy Nave

Guy Nave is a professor of religion at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. His research focuses on the topics of Christianity, religion and social justice, the social construction of religious meaning, and race-religion-and-politics. Professor Nave is currently researching the power, politics, and meaning behind the rhetoric of "change."

He is the author of several articles and book chapters, and he served as a New Testament Greek translator for the 2011 Common English Bible. His commentary on 2 Corinthians is published in the African American New Testament Commentary, and his book, The Role and Function of Repentance in Luke-Acts has been identified as “the standard scholarly work on repentance in the New Testament.”

Guy Nave received his Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, and his Ph.D. in New Testament studies from Yale University. In addition to his blog posts here, he is a frequent contributor to Sojourners Magazine's online "Commentary" blog series.

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