Nick Cannon Explains Why He 'Had to' Attend George Floyd Protests in Minneapolis

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Nick Cannon in October 2018
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Nick Cannon is explaining his decision to travel to Minneapolis to join racial injustice protests and sharing how his children’s views remain impacted by such events. Protests have occurred around the globe following the death of 46-year-old Minneapolis man George Floyd, who died after a police officer held him down by the neck with his knee for more than seven minutes last week.

“I had to go to Minneapolis. I needed to be right there on 38th Street and Chicago where George Floyd’s life was tragically stolen from him,” Cannon, 39, wrote in an essay published by Variety on Sunday. “I needed to see the people in that community -- how much love they had for their community and their people and how much pain this has caused. We feel the pain go across the world -- the anger and the hurt. Those visuals will never be removed from our minds.”

“We’re in the middle of a pandemic and instead of coming closer together and operating as one humanity, people go within and want to protect the focus on old mind-sets of classism and racism,” he continued. “This doesn’t have to exist anymore. People are searching for a new normal. I don’t want to go back to our old normal -- clearly that was killing us on many levels. What we need is a new normal, a new paradigm.”

The Masked Singer host shared his hopes that society could dismantle what he referred to as racist systems going forward, and subsequently limit oppression and “crimes of inequality.” He wrote that America was built on such systems and that anyone supporting how the nation is run is wrong to claim that they are not a racist.

“If you don’t step up and say this system has been wrong for years -- from the war on drugs to criminalization of black men in general to the school-to-prison pipeline to the prison industrial complex. It’s a form of modern-day slavery,” he wrote. “There are more black men in jail today then there were enslaved [in the 19th century]. These are concepts that people overlook daily.”

The star called for a total reform of policing, suggesting that the term “police officer” be replaced with “peace officer,” since people are supposed to feel protected and safe in the presence of cops. In contrast, the father of three (who has 9-year-old twins with ex -wife Mariah Carey and a 3-year-old son with his ex, Brittany Bell) said his children fear the men in blue.

“My kids are scared of police officers,” Cannon shared. “In their minds, they’re the bad guys. This is clearly the problem.”

“What happened to George Floyd has been going on for years and years,” he added. “Now technology has given us another liberty -- to see first-hand what is going on. Now that we can see it we have got to hold them accountable. From excessive force to murder -- everything we see, we have to hold them accountable -- including the so-called good cops standing by allowing this to happen. One bad cop isn’t acting alone. There are several other bad cops allowing that one to do what he is doing.”

Cannon noted that while he had seen signs of hopes in both the Minneapolis and St. Paul mayors during his visit, he witnessed much “pain and disappointment” with the way they were enforcing the law. He concluded by pointing out that Minneapolis residents never fathomed such events would occur in their hometown, which is a stark reminder that “this is what America is.”

“If it can happen in Minneapolis, it could happen in Georgia and it can happen in Los Angeles and it can happen in New York,” Cannon wrote. “The same thing that made me go to Minneapolis is the same thing that made me go to Ferguson and to Charlottesville and to jails in Cook County and Washington, D.C. and to study criminology at Howard University. I did not want to be another celebrity tweeting or reposting a picture. I want to be authentic and educated and informed. I had to go to it.”

Cannon is one of many celebrities enraged by Floyd’s death and using their platforms to call for racial justice.

Musicians Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello were seen joining protestors in Miami, Florida, while songstress Ariana Grande shared snaps from a peaceful protest she proudly participated in in Los Angeles.

See more on what stars are saying and doing in the wake of Floyd’s death below.

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