Rap mogul Kanye West could face a lawsuit from the family of George Floyd after claiming that Floyd died of a fentanyl overdose rather than by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressing his knee on his neck for over nine minutes, the Floyd family's attorney announced on Twitter.
The background of George Floyd's death, BLM and far-right conspiracy theories
Floyd was killed following an act of perceived police brutality when he was arrested by Chauvin, who was recorded pressing his knee against Floyd's neck for over nine minutes despite Floyd's protests of "I can't breathe," an act for which Chauvin was later charged and convicted.
This death kicked off mass protests in the US and throughout the world against racism and police brutality and added fuel to the Black Lives Matter movement, which has become one of the most significant and impactful US social movements of the millennium.
Despite the ample video and physical evidence, there have been some conspiracy theorists claiming that Floyd didn't actually die this way, but rather overdosed on fentanyl.
One such conspiracy theory was propagated by far-right commentator Candace Owens, who released a documentary on DailyWire+ entitled The Greatest Lie Ever Sold: George Floyd and the Rise of BLM.
It is this documentary that West referred to in his controversial comments made on the Drink Champs podcast on Sunday.
"One of the things that his two roommates said was they want a tall guy like me, and the day that he died, he said a prayer for eight minutes. They hit him with fentanyl. If you look, the guy’s knee wasn’t even on his neck like that."Kanye West
"One of the things that his two roommates said was they want a tall guy like me, and the day that he died, he said a prayer for eight minutes. They hit him with fentanyl. If you look, the guy’s knee wasn’t even on his neck like that," West said.
It is indeed true that Floyd did have fentanyl, as well as methamphetamine, in his blood when he died, but this was not the cause of death. The fact that a police officer compressed Floyd's neck with his knee, killing him, has been supported by testimony, video evidence and medical examination.
West's remarks have sparked outrage as a result, and promoted civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, who represented the Floyd family, to comment that the Floyd family is considering a lawsuit.
"While one cannot defame the dead, the family of #GeorgeFloyd is considering suit for Kanye’s false statements about the manner of his death," Merritt tweeted.
"Claiming Floyd died from fentanyl not the brutality established criminally and civilly undermines & diminishes the Floyd family's fight."
While one cannot defame the dead, the family of #GeorgeFloyd is considering suit for Kanye’s false statements about the manner of his death.Claiming Floyd died from fentanyl not the brutality established criminally and civilly undermines & diminishes the Floyd family’s fight.— Lee Merritt (@MerrittForTexas) October 16, 2022
Kanye West's increasing controversies
The 45-year-old Kanye West is one of the most successful musicians in history, whose long career has seen him accrue a vast number of awards, accolades and chart-toping songs and albums.
He is so successful, in fact, that the billionaire rap icon has been estimated by some to be the single wealthiest musician on the planet.
Despite that, however, he has become an increasingly controversial figure in recent years due to his outspoken views. Kanye's controversial actions include, but are not limited to:
- Admitting back in 2016 that he would have voted for Republican candidate Donald Trump in the US presidential elections, had he voted at all
- Allegedly defending Bill Cosby for sexual assault allegations
- Launching his own presidential campaign in 2020
- Wearing a White Lives Matter shirt alongside Candace Owens while also claiming Black Lives Matter was a scam.
More recently, West has also made numerous antisemitic comments, including, but not limited to:
- Claiming that rapper Diddy is controlled by Jews
- Threatening to go "death con 3" on Jewish people
- Claiming Jews control Black people
- Saying that Planned Parenthood was a eugenicist-Ku Klux Klan conspiracy to "control the Jew population"
- Espousing the belief that "the people known as the race Black" are the real Jews
- Allegedly claiming that he "loved Hitler and the Nazis."
In fact, West made further antisemitic comments on the very same Drink Champs podcast, saying that "Zionist Jews" were targeting him.
West has also said that he is "glad he crossed that line" with his comments.
In addition, West is also known to struggle with serious mental health issues, specifically bipolar disorder. Whether this plays any role in his actions is unknown, and many experts and commentators have argued that it is no excuse for his actions.
Gadi Zaig contributed to this report.