Candace Owens’ October, 2022, 80-minute documentary, The Greatest Lie Ever Sold: George Floyd and the Rise of BLM, a Daily Wire production, is an agonizing watch. Beginning in spring, 2020, destructive and deadly riots broke out across the United States. These riots self-advertised as being all about a “racial reckoning.”
If you were a leftist living in a comfortable suburb far from the arson, looting, and public torture, you could look on and cheer the apparent downfall of the country and the value system you benefit from, and that you irrationally and hypocritically hate. If you were, like me and millions of others, living in a majority-minority, low-income city already burdened with high murder rates, 2020’s riots felt like a terrifying, demoralizing death spiral. We never knew when our homes would burn, when our grocers would be looted and permanently closed, when our fragile economies of immigrant-run mom-and-pop shops would be cut off at the knees, when our banks would shrug, give up, and leave town, when our cars would be incinerated, when our property values, already low, would plummet, when our black and Latino police officers would be shot dead, and when we would be the bystanders whose random death would add to the body count. In addition to those killed in the riots, 2,457 more black Americans were murdered in 2020 than in 2019, “marking the largest single-year increase in killings since the agency began tracking the crimes.” Anti-policing policies and attitudes and increasing lawlessness are to blame for these deaths and thousands more, research has shown.
Money is less of a concern for rich leftists than it is for those of us who are living on the edge. The poor know that poverty can be a death sentence. As we watched looters empty stores, especially stores in neighborhoods like ours, majority minority, economically weak urban enclaves, we knew: everything is about to start costing a lot more. Someone has to pay for the CVS, the Walgreens, and Walmarts being emptied out. The looters aren’t paying, so we will. The over-the-counter medications we rely on for chronic illnesses, drugs not covered by insurance, will take income away from our food budgets. Insurance rates will skyrocket, as will inflation. The little money we have will be worth less.
No, if you were a comfortable leftist living in a safe suburb you didn’t have to confront the consequences of your support for BLM. I just had a quick look at the pages of Facebook friends who posted wall-to-wall BLM support during 2020’s riots. One is now posting updates on the performance of her thoroughbred horses in various show competitions. One, who sobbed over the death of Queen Elizabeth, is now visiting Buckingham Palace. One has gone back to posting her scores in online word games. Another posts stunning photos of her expansive gardens. Their BLM passion was as short-lived as it was shallow.
Clearly, rich leftists have moved on to the next fad. We in blighted urban neighborhoods will never move on. Riots scar a city for generations. Capital, jobs, and safety depart and move to greener pastures. Newark has yet to recover from the riots of the 1960s. One estimate of the total cost of the George Floyd riots is $2 billion. That number is too low, for a few reasons. The Foundation for Economic Education explains. “Seventy-five percent of US businesses are under-insured and about forty percent of small businesses have no insurance at all. Their untold millions in losses don’t show up in the $2 billion figure … riots leave a lasting shadow on a city that haunts its economy for decades. The afflicted areas face higher insurance rates, lower property values, higher prices, reduced tax revenue, and decreased economic opportunity.” Finally, the damage done to human bodies and souls is not factored in to the $2 billion tab. An elderly man attempted to defend a property. Rioters broke his jaw. His pain and suffering, and subsequent sense of isolation and insecurity, and that of thousands of others, inevitably produces an economic drag, one it is difficult to estimate, but is no less real.
And all for nothing. Every last looting spree, every last rock thrown at the head of a beaten, bleeding white man lying helplessly in the street, every defaced synagogue, every not just ignorant but insane tearing down of a statue of a martyr to abolition like Hans Christian Heg or Abraham Lincoln, was for absolutely nothing. As Heather MacDonald, Roland G. Fryer, John McWhorter and others struggled to communicate, America is not racist, and there is no statistical support for the claim that there is an epidemic of white cops shooting unarmed black men to death for no reason. Officer Derek Chauvin was arrested four days after the death of George Floyd. He was rapidly charged, convicted, and imprisoned. In mainstream and social media, Chauvin was universally condemned, by both the left and the right. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, beloved by police officers, famous as a tough-on-crime icon, roundly and repeatedly condemned Chauvin on his WABC radio show.
Owens’ The Greatest Lie Ever Sold adds to the agony with simple truths. I want every American to watch this documentary, even though I know that watching it may well hurt.
The film opens with a quote from Malcolm X. “The Media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and the make the guilty innocent.” I differ from Owens on this point. The media includes Candace Owens, and the media includes this review. The media is vast and consumers can select what media they support.
Next we see video of Floyd purchasing cigarettes with a counterfeit twenty dollar bill. The employees in the store are clearly minorities themselves. Cup foods employee Mike Abumayyaleh explains that they only call the police if the person using a counterfeit bill refuses to pay with other tender. George Floyd, apparently, when confronted, refused to pay with a real bill. In his refusal to use real money, even when confronted, Floyd made one of many choices that preceded his death. Officer Thomas Lane’s bodycam shows Floyd in a car with his drug dealer, not cooperating with the police. A caption reports that he resisted being placed in a squad car for eight minutes. Derek Chauvin was called in as backup. Had Floyd not resisted arrest, Derek Chauvin would never have been on the scene.
The film cuts to Candace Owens’ June 3 video. Owens, a black woman, rejected worldwide hysteria turning George Floyd into a Messianic figure. “I do not support George Floyd and the media depiction of him as a martyr for black America.” She cited Shelby Steele, paraphrasing him as saying that blacks are unique in that they “cater to the bottom denominator in our society.” Jews, whites, and Latinos, she said, would not hold up a felon as a culture hero. Owens made clear that she was not defending Derek Chauvin and she hoped to see Chauvin receive appropriate justice. She said also that the family of George Floyd deserves justice for the “way that he died.” “But I’m not going to accept the narrative that this is the best that the black community has to offer.’ “It has become fashionable for us to turn criminals into heroes.” “The only way you can be black is to say that this person was amazing. I’m not going to do that. George Floyd was not amazing.” “Everyone agrees that the police officer was wrong and the police officer has been arrested. That’s not something that has been misconstrued in the media.” Any black person who does not go along with the celebration of criminals is labeled a “coon.” Condoleezza Rice, Dr. Ben Carson, Larry Elder are all, in this understanding, “coons,” because they are educated high achievers.
Any fair minded person watching Owens’ June 3 video immediately realizes two things. The first thing a fair-minded person realizes is that Candace Owens is a straight-shooter and a person of depth and conscience. She is struggling to be as fair as possible in a very difficult situation. She never says that Floyd deserved to die as he did; she says quite the opposite. She never defends Chauvin; she says he deserves “justice.” No matter how hard Owens works to state a simple truth – she does not believe that black people benefit from making criminals their heroes – the viewer knows that Candace Owens will be vilified, threatened, and damned for what she had the courage and decency to say.
Dave Chappelle exhibited his signature cruelty, bullying, cowardice, misogyny, and, most important, his complete dishonesty. “Candace Owens tried to convince white America, ‘Don’t worry about it. He’s a criminal anyway.'” Chappelle is lying. Candace Owens said no such thing, and she clearly wasn’t talking to “white America.” In his pot-and-tobacco ruined voice, his eyes bugging out of his bald head, Chapelle gurgled out that Candace Owens is a “rotten bitch” and he mentioned kicking Owens in her “stinky pussy.”
Owens said that such attacks made everything “personal” for her. “I am going to scream the truth” more loudly than others “can scream the lies.” Candace Owens has more courage and integrity in her little finger than Dave Chappelle has in his six foot frame.
Owens visits George Floyd’s housemates, Alvin Manago and Theresa Scott. Their previously shared home looks lovely; his roommates, a man and a woman, come across as nice people. Both are kind and respectful in their comments about Floyd. They acknowledge that Floyd was an addict, but say that he kept that out of the house. The man they knew was a valued friend, they insist.
Manago says that at memorials people would circulate metal boxes and ask for money. “I don’t know who you are or where this is going.” Clips show the Floyd family acknowledging trips to the White House and crying. The documentary reports that none of them ever went to Floyd’s house to pick up his things. His car was still in the driveway. Neither Manago nor Scott had the paperwork necessary to address the car. Owens herself arranged to have it removed, and she gave Manago and Scott money to cover the rent they lost after Floyd’s death.
In the film, Scott emphasizes how surprised she was that no family members ever came to Floyd’s home for the final years of his life, the home where his belongings were still to be found. Manago says that he would like to meet Floyd’s daughter, as that daughter is “an extension of him.” Manago and Scott chat about people coming forward and claiming to be Floyd’s children, but proven wrong through DNA checks. Evidently there were rumors that some tried to capitalize on worldwide sympathy for Floyd by claiming false relationships. The documentary does not make clear if these rumors are accurate.
Owens lays bare George Floyd’s extensive criminal history. In 2007, Floyd and his accomplices forced entry into the home of Aracely Henriquez, pistol-whipped her, and ransacked her home. Henriquez’s seven-year-old son identified Floyd. “How absolutely traumatized that child was,” Owens remarks. “Just a few years later, children are wearing his shirt, and referring to him as hero and savior. That’s wrong … Two things can be true at once. George Floyd didn’t deserve to die. And this person was not a saint,” she says.
In a 2019 arrest video, “I want my momma, man,” Floyd moans. Who exactly was George Floyd’s “momma”? On the witness stand, Courtney Ross, Floyd’s girlfriend, with whom he sometimes used opioids, testifies that Floyd called her “momma,” and indeed he listed her phone number on his phone as “momma.” “Calling out for his mother was a nice victim narrative,” Owens observes.
Owens is shown speaking on her phone to an interlocutor we cannot hear. This, we learn, is Derek Chauvin’s mother. For understandable reasons, she is afraid to speak to Owens. Unable to gain access to Chauvin or his mother, Owens turns to people who knew him. Sargent Joey Sandberg says that “Derek is quiet, somewhat quirky, very dependable. Derek is the kind of guy you want to show up on your calls with you. He’s very level headed.” Sandberg says that Chauvin is allowed no reading material, no TV, no computer, and he is alone in his cell twenty-three hours a day. Since the documentary was filmed, Chauvin has been moved to another prison.
Lieutenant Kim Voss insists that Chauvin never revealed any racist tendencies. Indeed, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, a Muslim and a black man, said, “I wouldn’t call [Floyd’s death a hate crime] because hate crimes are crimes where there’s an explicit motive and bias. We don’t have any evidence that Derek Chauvin factored in George Floyd’s race as he did what he did.”
In the “widely circulated video taken by a bystander” “the camera angle suggests” that Chauvin “kneeled on George Floyd’s neck the whole time.” But Officer Alexander Kueng’s camera showed Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s shoulder blade. How long Chauvin’s knee was on Floyd’s shoulder has been debated. In another video, Floyd also says “I can’t breathe” before he is put on the ground, at his own request.
Dr. Ron Martinelli is a forensic criminologist and Certified Medical Investigator. Martinelli tells Owens that there was evidence that Floyd had consumed a lethal cocktail of fentanyl and methamphetamine. In video from the trial, Dr. Andrew Baker, Chief Medical Examiner of Hennepin County, testifies that the level of fentanyl found in Floyd’s system, had he been found dead absent any interaction with police, would have been assessed as enough to have killed him. “I would certify his death as fentanyl toxicity.”
Martinelli says that Floyd’s heart suffered from cardiomegaly, that is, an enlarged heart, a sign of ill health. “That is significant.” “There is zero evidence,” he says, to prove that Floyd was unable to intake sufficient oxygen. The suggestion is that Floyd did not die of asphyxiation. This conclusion is controversial and debated. On October 17, for example, the Washington Post accused Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, of lying when he said that Floyd died from a drug overdose. The reason that the asphyxiation v. drug overdose battle is so hot is clear. If Floyd died of a drug overdose, he was responsible for his own death and the larger narrative becomes an anti-drug-abuse narrative. If Derek Chauvin asphyxiated Floyd, Chauvin is responsible for his death, and the larger narrative is one of black innocence, white racism, and police brutality.
Owens interviews a few people whose lives were damaged by Floyd protestors. Liz Collin is a former news anchor. She is married to former Minneapolis police chief Bob Kroll. “Within minutes” of Floyd’s death, Collin reports, tweets appeared saying, paraphrase, Bob Kroll and Liz Collin will be dead by the time the year ends. The mob also threatened to murder their seven-year-old son. Protestors made pinatas of Collin and Kroll dressed as Klansmen. and Representative John Thompson, spewing obscenities, beat these effigies in Collin’s and Kroll’s home driveway. Collin lost her job, and was unable to get any other job.
Kitson is a boutique in LA where celebrities sometimes shop. Fraser Ross is the owner. He called Kitson “a general store for the rich.” Looters stole over $400 thousand of merchandise. Chrissy Teigen posted that she would donate hundreds of thousands of dollars in bail money for rioters. “They all live in gated communities and it’s not their stuff being destroyed,” Ross observes.
Ross posted a looting photo and said “Thanks Chrissy.” She replied, “I’m gonna not shop at your store so hard.” Influencers Jen Atkin and Dana Omari inevitably accused Ross of being a racist. Omari sent Ross a lengthy private message detailing how he must grovel in public to avoid further wrath. During a phone call, Omari extorted a ten thousand dollar donation to Black Lives Matter. Without that donation, she said, she would ruin his business through her internet posts.
Not just individual lives, but the lives of communities were destroyed by the Floyd riots. These were largely non-white, low-income communities. Pastor Charles Karuku grew up in Kenya. He is president of Unity Movement Institute. Of the Floyd riots, Pastor Karuku says, “I’m used to this in Third World countries, but not in America, and not in Minnesota … This is not ‘Minnesota Nice.'” Karuku and Owens walk past a sign reading, “You are now entering the Free State of George Floyd.”
Karuku explains, “This is an autonomous zone that operates outside the laws of the United States … They do whatever they want … We’ve seen a woman who was pregnant shot right in front of us.”
Shops are boarded up. Insurance would never cover all the losses. Owens and Karuku pass an open-air altar to George Floyd. There is a drawing in the street representing his body. Flowers and artwork surround it. A cardboard sign reads, “Sacred space.”
“We have better people to follow,” the pastor says. “Like Jesus Christ, who epitomized what we would like to emulate.”
“BLM raised ninety million dollars on the back of George Floyd. Where is that money?” Owens asks.
“I don’t know. It’s not here … Everything looks worse than it was… Some of these organizations can only get money if they propagate hatred. They are not helping the community. They are helping themselves,” Karuku says.
George Floyd’s former housemates say that they have not seen a dime of BLM money, though they are carrying the expenses Floyd used to carry.
Silicone Valley entrepreneur and bestselling author Vivek Ramaswamy says that during the Floyd riots, his business milieu insisted on “a pledge of allegiance to this one man into some type of new modern messiah figure. The religious quality was odd. The bending the knee … I didn’t recite the same ritual incantation that every other CEO was pledging allegiance to across the country.”
A BLM front person bought a mansion for three million, and then sold it to BLM for six million within days, creating a personal profit of three million. “That’s a self-dealing transaction.”
BLM founder Patrisse Cullors hired her mother and her brother to work at the property. The brother is a graffiti artist. He was hired to handle security. His salary is $840 thousand for one year. Cullors’ baby daddy received $969 thousand. Cullors also channeled money to her wife, Jenaya Khan, who appears to have had surgery to appear as a male. Even so, a photo of Khan can receive this kind of caption from Vogue, “Louis Vuitton vest and pants. Mejuri pendant necklace. Hair, Marcia Hamilton; makeup, Tasha Reiko Brown. Fashion Editor: Yashua Simmons. Produced by: GE Projects. Photographed by Melodie McDaniel.” A bit different from “Arise ye prisoners of starvation. Arise ye wretched of the earth.”
BLM has poured over two million dollars into trans groups, including groups for trans sex workers. Owens attempts to investigate Living through Giving, an organization that received $2.3 million from BLM. Photos reveal that Cullors knew the recipient, AJ Vreeland, at least as early as 2019. Living through Giving purports to distribute free lunches. Owens was unable to find any such distribution.
$32 million of Marxist, anti-Western, anti-American BLM’s assets went into the stock market.
Owens goes to “celebrity enclave” Laurel Canyon. In this segment, petite Candace Owens is very obviously pregnant. She is dressed, as ever, impeccably. She merely approaches the gate of Cullors’ mansion, a mansion purchased with the blood of innocents like David Dorn.
Intercut with Owens’ inoffensive approach to Cullors’ mansion is video of Cullors herself, whining online that Candace Owens is threatening her. It would be comical were it not so disgusting. Owens is a petite woman; she is carrying a child; she is speaking in soft, polite tones. All she wants is to speak to someone. Cullors labels Owens’ visit a veritable terrorist assault. “She was demanding that I come outside,” Cullors lies into her video camera. “It’s unacceptable and it’s dangerous to come outside of my house.” One thinks of the houses burned to the ground by Cullors’ followers. “What happened this morning is not safety. It’s not what I deserve. It’s not what any of us deserve. They’re trying to destroy me.” No, Cullors. Owens was just trying to tell the truth.
It goes without saying that Cullors’ security team is, as Owens reports, a white male and a German shepherd.
“What could be more emblematic of BLM than that?” Owens asks. “Playing the victim, to the public, hoping that you can get sympathy and that sympathy will transform into dollars.” “The real story” of George Floyd’s death, Owens insists, “is a story of addiction. That could have brought people together globally. This was a man who was high on drugs … it is a story of a man who overdosed.” Instead, BLM uses “black emotion and black pain to extort dollars from white America.”
In 2020, Minneapolis saw a 58% increase in murder. In 2021, the city recorded the highest number of homicides in over 20 years.
Danusha Goska is the author of God through Binoculars: A Hitchhiker at a Monastery.