After a photo of two individuals mocking the killing of George Floyd, a Minneapolis black man, began circulating on social media late Thursday night, the University of Maryland has referred those involved to the Office of Student Conduct, a spokesperson wrote in an email.
The photo — captioned “George Floyd challenge” — depicts one of the individuals holding his knee above the neck of the other, who is lying on the ground. Floyd died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee to his neck for over eight minutes while making an arrest. He was 46 years old.
In a statement sent by a university spokesperson, the university condemned the individuals’ actions. Members of the campus community who were affected by the post are receiving support and resources from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s Bias Incident Support Services, according to the statement.
“We will not let the repugnant action of a few detract from our continuing commitment to racial justice,” the statement read. “Honoring [Floyd’s] life also means taking action to end systemic racism, and we – as an academic community – are urgently engaging in this vital work.”
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The post sparked outrage online, with one tweet about it garnering over 4,000 retweets and over 2,000 likes. In replies to the tweet, university alumni and students expressed outrage, calling on the university to take immediate action to confront the behavior.
“[N]o racists belong at my school,” reads one reply, with another calling for the individuals’ expulsions.
Other posts similarly mocking Floyd’s death have surfaced on social media sites, drawing condemnation and disgust from users. A spokesperson for Facebook told The New York Post that the company has been removing the posts for violating its Community Standards, and a Twitter spokesperson told Business Insider that the tweets violate its rules on self-harm and abusive behavior.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-05) also released a statement Thursday condemning the “George Floyd challenge,” urging people “from every walk of life” to speak out against the behavior both on social media and in conversations with friends and family.
“I am disgusted that any American would mock the murder of George Floyd by posting satirical pictures of his anguished final moments,” Hoyer said in the statement. “To do so is sick and disturbed. As my late friend and colleague Elijah Cummings would have said: ‘We are better than this.’”
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