Petal Mayor Hal Marx has caused a smite of controversy with a social media post regarding a fatal encounter between Minneapolis police and a black man named George Floyd, in which Floyd died after a white police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck while Floyd said he couldn’t breathe.
“If you can talk you can breathe,” Marx posted March 26 on Facebook. Think about that before you rush to judgment. #thinblueline.”
The comment received immediate backlash on the social media platform, such as a post from Jake Wilson that reads “Mr. Mayor, this is not a smart comment at all. How do you know he couldn’t breathe? Were you there? Have you been in that situation? What an extremely privileged thing to say. You have to be better than this.”
Some of the posts were a little heavier, such as one from Claire Cochran that read, “You need to remove this status. You represent the city of Petal and not all of the citizens are racist, ignorant and hateful like you. You should be ashamed of yourself.”
Marx said he feels the negative posts are an organized effort to try to harass him because he shared an opinion that some people may not agree with.
“I think what this is really a commentary on, is how it’s so sad it is in our country, that you can say something as bland as ‘let’s wait for facts to come out before we judge somebody,’ and for saying that, people come to the conclusion that you’re a horrible person and a racist and disgusting,” Marx said. “They’ve even brought my wife into it by harassing her and by trying to get her home-based business business taken off of a website, because supposedly she’s married to a racist.
“And that’s what really disgusts me –it disgusts me that our country’s gotten to the point where people can bully you into not having a different opinion about something. We can agree to disagree; I’m sure there’s a lot of people who agree with me and disagree on a lot of different issues, but that doesn’t mean we don’t all have the right to have opinions.”
Marx said the fact that all Americans have the right to share their opinions and viewpoints is one of the things that make the country great.
“Unfortunately, we are now in this age where if you say anything that’s not in line with the orthodoxy of the popular culture, they try to harass you into submission,” he said.
A few of the comment’s on Marx’s post were more supportive, such as one from Ron Martin that says “(Marx) was saying it off the scientific truth that if you can speak, air is able to move through your trachea. It doesn’t mean the officer’s actions were justified. Just that physiologically speaking, air can move through the airway if you can talk.”
The incident in Minneapolis occurred May 25, when police were called to a report of a man attempting to use forged documents at Cup Foods. When officers arrived on the scene, they said they found Floyd, who appeared to be intoxicated, in a car.
Police asked Floyd to get out of the car, at which point police said Floyd physically resisted officers before they were able to get him into handcuffs. Police noticed the man was going into “medical distress,” and an ambulance transported him to a local health care facility, where he later died.
The next day, a video of the arrest surfaced, which appears to show a white officer pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck behind a squad car. Floyd is heard saying that he is unable to breathe, and after about five minutes, seems to go unconscious.
Marx said he has no reason to take his original post down.
“I simply said a medical fact that if you are talking, and you’re in your normal voice, then you are breathing – that’s the thing,” he said. “My point is saying that is that I had seen a lot of people sharing posts about what happened in Minneapolis, and I guess the wise thing to do would be to not comment on something that didn’t happen in this area, because it doesn’t really affect us. But I’m just to the point where I hate to see people railroad police in situations where they don’t have all the facts.
“And the fact is, we don’t know what happened to that gentleman, we don’t know what caused his death. It’s a tragedy that he lost his life, and if the officers are found guilty of causing his death in some way, then they should be punished severely. But we don’t know that, so my whole thing was saying don’t rush to judgment … and somehow that became a racially-charged statement. And saying the police also deserve to be innocent until found guilty, that somehow also became racially-charged.”