First, let’s dispense with the 500 pound gorilla. I think we can all agree that the murder of George Floyd was horrific, unconscionable, horrendous, appalling, grisly, and….. I’ve run out of words, but you get the idea.
No one who has seen the video of Floyd lying face down in the street with his hands handcuffed behind his back and police officer Derek Chauvin’s knee pressing on his neck can possibly disagree with that conclusion nor defend Chauvin’s actions. Whatever Floyd may or may not have done prior to that does not justify Chauvin’s actions, nor, for that matter, the inaction of the other three police officers on the scene.
Chauvin has been charged with third degree murder and manslaughter; as I write this, the others have been fired but not charged. That could very well change as the investigations continue. Ben Crump, the Floyd family attorney, is not satisfied. He is advocating for a charge of first degree murder, but as he well knows the DA will normally only bring charges that he feels he can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. This case is now under a microscope. I am confident the criminal justice system will do its job properly and “by the book.”
Thank God, we have the video. Usually, in cases like this we have to rely on the account of witnesses who often have divergent recollections of the incident and/or have their own agendas.
The primary focus of this blog, however, is not on the act, itself, so much as the aftermath. For the past few days, like you, I have sat transfixed and horrified by what I have seen on my tv screen. I feel like I am witnessing scenes from a third-world country where lawlessness and violence are the norm. I have watched undisciplined mobs of rioters in several cities burning, looting and assaulting wantonly and indiscriminately.
Make no mistake about it. These are not “protests;” they are “riots.” Many people, including some in the media, have been mischaracterizing them, perhaps intentionally, perhaps, out of carelessness or ignorance. In any event, for their edification, Wikipedia defines a “protest” as a “PEACEFUL display of displeasure or disapproval” usually characterized by “marching, chanting, or [displaying] signs.” Notice the word “peaceful.” The right to protest is an inalienable right guaranteed by the Constitution, that pesky little document that is sometimes overlooked or ignored.
A “riot” is characterized by “violent display[s].” The perpetrators are not engaged in peaceful, orderly demonstrations such as we have often seen in the past. By engaging in rioting, they, themselves, are criminals. To characterize them as protestors is disingenuous at the very least.
This is no longer about Floyd and police brutality. It has morphed into out and out lawlessness. It is being fueled by anarchists and criminals who don’t care about Floyd. Probably, most of them are not even Minneapolis residents and therefore have no compunction in whether or not it is destroyed. This situation cannot be tolerated in a free, orderly society such as ours.
Predictably, as reported by various news outlets,the rioting has spread to many other cities such as NYC, Chicago, Oakland, Atlanta and Louisville. It is spreading like, excuse the term, wildfire. In Atlanta, as rioters were attacking the CNN logo Mayor Keisha Bottoms implored them to just “stop their violence and simply go home.” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer told reporters, “There is no excuse for the destruction of property …. This is not protest; it is violence.”
Finally, after letting the mobs run wild for several days burning, looting and attacking, Minnesota Governor, Tim Walz and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey have sprung into action. Today, Saturday, Walz announced the mobilization of the state’s National Guard (for the first time in its 164-year history). What took him so long? Who knows. Maybe, someone should ask him. Frey, having ordered the police to stand down, is also complicit. No doubt, many of us are wondering how, in an environment where people are being arrested for having a “catch” in a park or going to the gym to work out these rioters are being ignored. As Dr. Spock might have said, “that is not logical.”
Furthermore, Fox News has reported that President Trump has placed some units of federal troops on standby, to deploy if needed. Let’s hope they are not.
As I said at the outset, it is apparent what happened. We can all see it on the video. The city, state and federal authorities are investigating. I am confident justice will be done.
In the meantime, that pesky little document we call the Constitution guarantees perpetrators of even the most heinous crimes due process. Even terrorists like KSM, assassins like Sirhan Sirhan and mass murderers like Ted Bundy and Charles Manson received it.
We don’t just round up suspects and kill them. This is not the Wild West of the late 19th century or the Old South. We gather evidence, build a case, take it to trial, and a jury of the accused’s peers renders a verdict. Often, the process takes months or even years to run its course. Whereas in this instance some may view it as too slow, that’s the way it is in the US. That’s the way it HAS to be or else our whole system crashes and burns (so to speak)
As usual, much of the media has irresponsibly gone far beyond reporting the facts. I don’t want to get political, but I believe many outlets have been fanning the flames for ratings and/or to promote their political agendas. For example, Reverend Al, everyone’s favorite race baiter, who somehow has a job as a political analyst on MSNBC, actually castigated the rioters not for destroying property per se but for burning down BLACK-OWNED property. Apparently, in his mind, it’s ok to destroy white-owned businesses.
As usual, the majority of the destroyed property was owned by poor minorities or immigrants who have seen their life’s work destroyed in a matter of minutes. As usual, this aspect of the event has been severely and tragically underreported.
We elect politicians to govern us and to protect us. I say, this is no time for elected officials to hide under their bed. You sought the power and notoriety of political office. You must also accept the responsibility of it. Do your job. Put on your “big boy pants,” and make the tough, perhaps, unpopular decisions. Otherwise, it will be incumbent on us, the voters, to elect people who will.