Gayle King is opening up about her own emotional coverage of the police killing of George Floyd and the fear she feels for her own son facing systemic racism in America. King joined the hosts of The Talk on Thursday via video chat, and the journalist teared up rewatching her CBS This Morning report of Floyd's murder, in which she cried while reporting on his death.
"It brings back memories of that day, because at the time we didn’t even know his name. We couldn’t even give him the dignity of his name. He was just a black man underneath the car," she recalled. "All we had seen was the knee on this neck and that was hard enough to see."
Floyd, a 46-year-old black man in Minneapolis, Minnesota, died after being taken into police custody after one officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on his neck for over eight minutes as Floyd begged him to get off and told the officers, "I can't breathe."
Chauvin and three other officers were fired following the incident, and days later Chauvin was arrested on charges of third-degree murder.
After days of protests across the nation sparked by Floyd's killing, charges against Chauvin were elevated to second-degree murder, and the three other officers involved in Floyd's arrest and subsequent death were charged with aiding and abetting murder.
"I start thinking about all kinds of things about that video. That’s what’s making me so emotional, that his last words were 'Mom,' 'Mama.' This is what’s getting me," King said. In Floyd's last minutes, as recorded in the now infamous video of his killing, he can be heard calling out, "Momma! Momma! I’m through," as bystanders begged police to get off and let him breathe.
"It goes to the primal instinct that we all have, because your mother is your ultimate protector and his mother died two years ago," King explained. "We didn’t know that at the time. When I got emotional, I didn’t know that. But we know that now."
King also reflected on how these events, and countless other similar incidents of police brutality and systemic racism, make her scared for her adult children, who both live across the country from her in Los Angeles.
"My son is 33 years old, and I'm worried about him, saying, 'Will, please don't walk Scott [his dog], please don't take him for long walks, everything is so volatile,'" King explained. "He lives in the Santa Monica area, close to there, so he can hear the police choppers and he can hear the sounds of the city. And Santa Monica as you know is a very affluent town... but I'm worried about him walking his frickin’ dog... I worry for him being a black man, period."
"I worry a lot about his safety. Welcome to being black in America. This is not new," she added.
King said she's also found it interesting "how white people are processing this and black people are processing it. Because it is black and white, but it should be a human issue. This is about humanity."