Air Force’s top enlisted leader speaks out in wake of George Floyd’s death

Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright shared his thoughts on Twitter Monday regarding the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a white police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck during an arrest in Minneapolis last week.

“Who am I?,” Wright tweeted. “I am a Black man who happens to be the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force. I am George Floyd…I am Philando Castile, I am Michael Brown, I am Alton Sterling, I am Tamir Rice.”

Wright, the top enlisted officer of the Air Force, posted a multi-part Twitter thread Monday afternoon urging Americans to acknowledge the struggle of black men in America while calling for change.

“Just like most of the Black Airmen and so many others in our ranks…I am outraged at watching another Black man die on television before our very eyes,” Wright said.

“What happens all too often in this country to Black men who are subjected to police brutality that ends in death…could happen to me. As shocking as that may sound to some of you,” he continued.

Wright’s comments come after Floyd, 46, died last Monday after an arrest captured on video that shows an officer kneeling on his neck. Derek Chauvin, the officer seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck in the video for almost nine minutes, was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter on Friday. The three other officers involved have not been charged, but have been fired, according to CNN.

Mass protests spotlighting police brutality and race in the US have erupted across the country, with some leaning toward violence and looting.

Wright is only the second black man in history to be the Air Force’s top enlisted leader, according to the Air Force Times. He called for action in the Air Force, which struggles with its own “demons” regarding racial disparities.

“As I struggle with the Air Force’s own demons that include the racial disparities in military justice and discipline among our youngest Black male Airmen and the clear lack of diversity in our senior officer ranks…I can only look in the mirror for the solution,” he tweeted.

“I, the CMSAF, must do better in ensuring every Airmen in our ranks has a fair chance at becoming the best version of themselves. While this is a complicated issue…I, along with every other leader across the force, am responsible for making sure it becomes a reality,” Wright continued.