What Comes Next?
George Floyd isn’t the only one who can’t breathe; racism, hatred and bigotry are suffocating this nation on all sides of the playing field. We continue to be plagued by rush to judgment assumptions with deadly consequences. I listen and watch as we condemn all Democrats and go as far as saying “The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.” I see the same things coming from the mouths of many people about Republicans. My observation is we have turned into a hateful nation.
We are no longer capable of protecting each other, watching out for each other, caring for each other or loving each other. We have to much hate. We have chosen sides! There is no more in between, no common ground, it’s either our way or no way. And I believe it all boils down to the “Root of all evil” money! We have reached the time spoken of by Isaiah 19:2 and Matthew 10:36. Brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor, and children against parents.
As of this past Sunday, the only communication from the leader of our country has been by tweets. That is sick, after five straight days and nights of out of control protests and riots throughout the country, we have been without any effective leadership. Over and over we have heard news outlets say “How do we put and end to this, what can be done to stop it.”
Those are good questions, my thought was why did they start in the first place?
The Memorial Day murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, demanded swift arrests, swift ‘just’ charges, and swift prosecution of the police officers responsible for his death. It was a horrific crime. Floyd, who was African American, died after being pinned to the ground by four police officers in front of a crowd that was pleading for his life. The crime was caught on video and surveillance cameras. There is no denying what occurred.
Floyd was detained after a call from a local shop that he had attempted to use a forged twenty-dollar bill. The store owner later told media that he did not know if Floyd even knew if it was forged. Police rushed to the scene, seized Floyd, pulled him from his vehicle, handcuffed him, with no resisting, and then held him in a choke hold until his body went limp. Three other officers stood by and watched as he lost his life. Later all four were fired, but remained free.
Then after protests broke out and civil unrest began, in a half hearted attempt to bring calm to the city, former police officer Derek Chauvin was arrested and taken into custody and charged with 3rd degree murder. To little to late! Therefore, it seems likely that arresting and effectively charging all four police officers responsible, when the murder took place, there would have been a good chance none of the protests would have occurred. And I believe that may still be the only solution to end the violence.
According to the official police report Floyd resisted arrest, despite clear video surveillance showing otherwise. The videos actually show his death as a clear murder in broad daylight in front of several eye witnesses who begged them to let him up.
The killing and refusal to arrest Floyd’s killers generated anger around the nation from people of all races. It is clear from the riots and demonstrations that the nation has had enough. Thousands both white, Hispanic and black, turned out where Floyd was killed. Police unloaded round after round of tear gas and non-lethal rounds to disperse the angry demonstration. Further promoting demonstrations in Minneapolis and other cities throughout the US.
What we really don’t know for sure, is who is responsible for the rioting and destruction. Many blame the peaceful protesters while others blame outside factions, including supremacist groups.
“What we saw was a public lynching without a rope,” said Leslie Redmond, president of the Minneapolis chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
No doubt racism plays a role in incidents of police violence, African Americans and Hispanics are disproportionately targeted for harassment, abuse, arrest and incarceration. The Trump administration has deliberately supported this type of action by police officers. Trump has proclaimed that he likes watching footage of “rough” treatment of “thugs,” and has urged police not to be “too nice.”
The source of police violence, however, is not racial antagonism, but class oppression. The unifying characteristic among victims of police violence, black, white, Hispanic or native American, is that they are poor and among the most vulnerable segments of the population.
On Friday morning, May 29, around 4 a.m. a CNN crew covering the Minneapolis riots, a mostly black crew was targeted and arrested and later released without incident. No reason was given, but it throws suspicion on the police as to what they may have been hiding, and not want covered. Later they were released and the Governor issued an apology. However crews covering the riots in several cities came under attack as well.
In a news conference on Wednesday, May 27, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey joined calls for the officer who pinned Floyd down to be arrested, asking: “Why is the man who killed George Floyd not in jail?”
He added: “If you had done it, or I had done it, we would be behind bars right now.”
If you had removed the Minneapolis Police Department uniform from Derek Chauvin, he would have been arrested on the spot and would probably already be charged with second-degree murder. Prosecutors would be lining up in the hallway to take his case to a grand jury and indict him. If you had removed his uniform and additionally made him a black man, there’s a good chance he’d have been shot dead.
Four days after the death of Mr. Floyd, Former Police Officer Derek Chauvin was taken into custody. While the other three still remained free and as of this writing have not been charged. Chauvin’s record of abuse as a police officer is lengthly, it is clear he has not been a good cop nor ever would be.
The “brotherhood” mentality in these former police officers was clear. This too often destructive sense of brotherhood needs to change in police, as it has had to for priests. The only true brotherhood is we the people, all the people, citizens and professionals in power together.
So, as bystanders watched in horror, three Minneapolis police officers stood by while a fourth officer choked a black man. It strikes me that none of these three officers recognized this as wrong and stopped it. I have to wonder what culture exists within the police force that the choking of a citizen who is begging for his life is not interrupted. No wonder African-American men and boys fear for their lives. This is a terrible stain on our police force and a tragedy for the Black community.
This type of behavior cannot be tolerated any longer. It has gone on for too long. Lets do our part to make it change. As a young boy growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, I never understood why my friend would always holler run when a police car drove by. He was a nice boy from a good family that lived three houses down from us. I have known the reason for many years now, but back then I didn’t realize being a boy of color meant being scared of the police.
I feel awful saying this, but because I have become so accustomed to hearing news of the Gestopo type of policing of black people in America, I was not surprised by the news of the death of the unarmed black man George Floyd at the hands of a white policeman, who pressed his knee on his neck and literally choked him to death, while three other policeman stood around without intervening.
Makes an outsider wonder about American democracy. Ed Parsons can be reached at; firstname.lastname@example.org.