'It Haunts Me': Rihanna and Beyoncé Issue Emotional Statements on Police Brutality and the Murder of George Floyd

Beyoncé speaks in a rare Instagram Live.
Beyoncé speaks in a rare Instagram Live.
Screenshot: Beyoncé (Instagram)

Much of America is still in mourning and rage over the murder of George Floyd, and if you feel personally devastated, you are far from alone. Captured on video for the world to see police brutality in action, Floyd’s death under the knee of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been a visceral reminder of the threat to black lives in America, and no one who cares about black lives, including two of the most famous entertainers in the world, has been immune to the emotional fallout.


“For the last few days, the magnitude of devastation, anger, sadness I’ve felt has been overwhelming to say the least!” Rihanna wrote in an emotional post to Instagram Saturday, tagged with not only Floyd’s name but the names of recent victims Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. “Watching my people get murdered and lynched day after day pushed me to a heavy place in my heart! To the point of staying away from socials, just to avoid hearing the blood curdling agony in George Floyd’s voice again, begging over and over for his life!!!”

“The look of enticement, the pure joy and climax on the face of this bigot, murderer, thug, pig, bum, Derek Chauvin, haunts me!! I can’t shake this!” she added. “I can’t get over an ambulance pulling up to an arrest, a paramedic checking a pulse without removing the very thing that’s hindering it! Is this that fucking normal??? If intentional MURDER is the fit consequence for “drugs” or “resisting arrest”....then what’s the fit consequence for MURDER???!”

Beyoncé is also questioning the charges leveled against Chauvin, taken into custody on Friday and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. In a rare video appearance on her Instagram page Saturday, the singer and philanthropist spoke out about the tragedy, urging her followers to sign a petition posted on her site to “demand more charges brought on all those involved in the death of George Floyd.”

“We need justice for George Floyd. We all witnessed his murder in broad daylight. We’re broken and we’re disgusted. We cannot normalize this pain,” Beyoncé said in the video (h/t Rolling Stone). “I’m not only speaking to people of color; if you’re white, black, brown or anything in-between, I’m sure you feel hopeless by the racism going on in America right now. No more senseless killing of human beings, no more seeing people of color as less than human. We can no longer look away. George is all of our family in humanity. He’s our family because he’s a fellow American.”

“There have been too many times that we’ve seen these violent killings and no consequences. Yes, someone’s been charged, but justice is far from being achieved,” she continued. “Please sign the petition and continue to pray for peace, compassion and healing for our country.”


In addition to texting “FLOYD” to 55156, Beyoncé is directing her followers to four justice organizations confronting this current crisis: Color of Change, the NAACP, We Can’t Breathe and Change.org, which has notified The Root that Floyd’s has become the largest petition in its history. In addition to Beyoncé, signatures include Cardi B, Keke Palmer, Lil Nas X, Attorney Benjamin Crump, Jay Versace, and nearly 8 million more. Additionally, June 2 has been designated “Black Out Tuesday” by many in the music industry; billed as “a day to disconnect from work and reconnect with our community”; coincidentally, at the start of what is as billed as Black Music Month.

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up, co-host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door...May I borrow some sugar?


Dollar, Dollar Bill

I’d like to see people with platforms, including and especially news organizations, also call out the state and local governments who sign contracts with police unions and enact “bill of rights” laws that enable the systematic avoidance of consequences for, and thus condonation of, the behavior being protested. Mayors should refuse to recognize unions and dissolve contracts. Now. Sue us? Fine. Start over. Any corporation that sponsors a police union needs to be put on blast. Sure, some will take that as a badge of honor but at least we’ll know where they stand. Speakers of each state legislature that has a version of a shield law giving police protection from investigation and hiding their conduct history from the public should be put on blast every day to repeal or replace them. Name bills. Name names. DAs’ records of charging or not for police misconduct and rigging grand juries should be front page news in every city until they are held accountable—through shame or election. Then fund challengers. I’m reading more about how what Klobuchar did or didn’t do as a DA affects her VP chances than how it affected the people of that county. If the NYT times can run a front-page list of names of victims of a pandemic they can run a front page list of names of people in leadership and policy making jobs who are actively contributing to a genocide. The enemies of the people need to be treated as the enemies of the people. There should be no place in polite society for actively complicit people.