For weeks the country lived in fear of being infected with and dying from the COVID-19 virus. And thousands did become infected, many suffered but survived, and more than 110,000 lost their lives.
Then suddenly, the daily focus on COVID-19 was replaced by the death of a black man at the hands of a white Minneapolis, Minnesota policeman, and the aftermath. Video of parts of the arrest of George Floyd stunned the nation, resulting in the initial firing of the policeman and three of his fellow officers, who now face criminal charges.
Peaceful protests of this death quickly turned violent, groups of protesters turned into mobs, businesses were robbed and burned, innocent people and police were attacked and injured, rioters saw strong police response, and many were arrested.
Curiously, some of the people who witnessed Floyd dying by a criminal act protested against that criminal act by committing their own criminal acts.
These riots are not about justice for an undeserved death. They are an insult to the true, conscientious protesters and to the memory they have of George Floyd. They are all about causing damage and pain for the sake of causing damage and pain.
There is no justice in burning down random buildings, looting stores for TVs and whatever else they can steal, attacking innocent bystanders and police officers, throwing bricks and water bottles at them, and killing a retired black police captain who was protecting a pawn shop that was being robbed.
Clear thinking has been told to stay-at-home, and raw emotion now controls the mobs. Some say there are outsider-anarchists whose goal is to stir violence and are fanning the flames of revolution.
New York Times Magazine reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones said in an interview,
"And violence is when an agent of the state kneels on a man's neck until all of the life is leached out of his body. Destroying property, which can be replaced, is not violence. And to put those things — to use the same language to describe those two things I think really — it's not moral to do that." In her mind, destroying things in response to what happened to Floyd is okay: “Destroying property … is not violence.”
Tell that to the numerous victims of rioting in Minneapolis who face damages to their businesses and other property that are said to exceed $55 million. Millions more damage has been done across the nation.
CNN’s Chris Cuomo believes that “protests” shouldn’t be peaceful. "And please, show me where it says protesters are supposed to be polite and peaceful,” he said.
Perhaps the U.S. Constitution can help Cuomo correct his gross mis-understanding. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees “the right of the people ‘peaceably’ [emphasis added] to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” A non-peaceable assembly — a violent riot — is not protected, no matter what the reason for the assembly.
It is stunning to see the breadth and depth of the attitude to now accept the injuries, deaths and destruction from riots as a normal part of protesting.
In what may be the goofiest idea of all, celebrities — those possessors of ultimate wisdom on all things — endorse the idea of “defunding police departments.” These self-important folks say the money spent on police would be better spent on “building healthy communities.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) wants the 800-officer Minneapolis Police Department disbanded. In a tweet she said, “The Minneapolis Police Department has proven themselves beyond reform. It’s time to disband them and reimagine public safety in Minneapolis.”
“Yes,” said Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender. “We are going to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department and replace it with a transformative new model of public safety.”
Someone breaking into your home? A riot on your street? Who you gonna call? Ilhan Omar, Lisa Bender?
In Los Angeles, $100 million to $150 million may soon be cut from funding the LAPD. New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio announced Sunday that the city would move funding from the New York Police Department to youth initiatives and social services.
However, we must decide if the current situation truly warrants such drastic actions against all police departments nationwide, which seems to be what celebrity advisors want.
Far more important than the pure number of people killed by police is how many of them were unjustified, and how many contributed to their deaths by resisting police? The former number is easier to find than the latter two numbers.
Last year, nearly 1,100 people were killed by police, according to Mapping Police Violence (MPV), a research group. MPV defines police killing as any time someone dies as a result of “being shot, beaten, restrained, intentionally hit by a police vehicle, pepper sprayed, tasered, or otherwise harmed by police officers, whether on-duty or off-duty.”
The MPV data does not say how many contributed to their own demise by resisting arrest, how many were unjustly killed, or died by accident. That is critical information in determining how great a problem police criminality actually is.
Eliminating unjustified killings by police is a critical goal, and the solution must be a sensible plan, not an emotional, chaotic one.