The manner of George Floyd's death makes law enforcement's job that much harder.
First, there is no defending the indefensible. The video shows an officer kneeling on the neck of a handcuffed suspect for several minutes. In none of the videos I've seen was this suspect, George Floyd, resisting or non-compliant to the officers. He may have resisted getting into the back of the police vehicle, but it wasn't caught on video. Even if that was the case, that is no reason to kneel on his neck once he was prone on the pavement. If Floyd was kicking, an officer would be justified to kneel on his legs or hold them down with his arms. An officer could kneel or hold his back down if he were thrashing his body about. I know of no training or any pain compliant holds that involve a knee to the neck.
I was a police officer for 29 years on the Long Beach Police Department in California. It is inconceivable to me that any officer would kneel on a HANDCUFFED suspect's neck for any amount of time, let alone long enough to kill him. I read on the internet that the Medical Examiner's preliminary report was that Mr. Floyd did not die of strangulation or asphyxiation. It is difficult to believe that George Floyd's death wasn't directly related to Officer Derek Chauvin's knee on Mr. Floyd's neck for an extended period of time. I'm sure the final report will show a connection.
It just makes all of the rest of law enforcement look bad and makes their job that much harder. To say that this rogue cop is a brutal sociopath, hides the fact that he is also an idiot. Almost everyone in America has a camera app on their phone and this moron puts and keeps his knee on the suspect's neck for eight or nine minutes? He didn't see people in the crowd pointing their phones at him? I believe at least some of the officers had body cams that were on. Chauvin didn't know this?
Officer Chauvin would have to be pretty dense not to know he was being videoed by citizens and police body cams. If he knew he was being videoed, why did he look so nonchalant during this episode? Did he think he was following his department's policy and training? Had he done this kind of thing before and never been disciplined? Why didn't one of the other officers tell Chauvin to stop kneeling on Floyd's neck? Was this a common Minneapolis PD procedure? If so, that whole department needs some serious retraining. These are my educated opinions based on years of law enforcement experience and training.
Having stated all of the above, it should be noted that the arrest of George Floyd was apparently a legal arrest. Officer Chauvin's arrest was a legal arrest. Like Mr. Floyd, had he lived, would have been presumed innocent until proved guilty in a court of law, so should Chauvin. He should not be lynched by public opinion, but tried and judged on all of the facts, not just the very damning video. George Floyd did have a criminal record. If his record included the abuse of drugs, that might have been a factor in his death. If, for example, the autopsy determined that the cause of Mr. Floyd's death was a drug overdose, that would most probably negate the murder and manslaughter charges against Officer Chauvin. The rule of law requires we wait for the judicial process before we determine the fate of anyone accused of a crime.
That's only half the story. The day after the video became public, the protests started. They were inevitable and certainly appeared justified. Unfortunately, they were almost immediately followed by rioting and looting. Those who rioted, vandalized and looted were not protesting. They could have cared less about George Floyd's death. His tragedy merely provided an excuse for their criminality.
After the first day, the continuation of the rioting and looting in any of the cities where they occurred, can be placed directly at the feet of the cowardly politicians and police chiefs who allowed it to go on. Since at least the riots in Baltimore and probably back to Ferguson, progressive politicians have decided that it was the appropriate thing to allow the anarchists, rioters and looters the right to “vent their frustration” on a certain area of their cities and businesses. This only encourages these criminals to continue their destruction of private and taxpayer owned property.
It has been my experience and most of those that honorably work in law enforcement, that riots and looting stop almost immediately after the first arrests are made, especially in front of an unruly crowd.
Those who choose law enforcement as a career are given a grave responsibility.
“Government is not reason, it is not eloquence – it is force! Like fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master”. – George Washington
Those who choose law enforcement as a career are given a grave responsibility. They are the force that George Washington spoke of in the above quote. They are charged with enforcing the laws that our elected officials have enacted. There are as many different ways to enforce laws as there are individual officers. Officers of the law are given discretion in many instances and different officers will handle the same situation in different ways.
Most officers, especially those with some experience, handle non-violent criminals and situations with tact and finesse. There are a few cops, a very few, thankfully, who could start a fight at a pacifist prayer meeting. Before I started the Long Beach Police Academy in 1974, my father, who had been on the Los Angeles Police Department for 27 years, gave me this sage advice that I will paraphrase: Start off treating everyone with respect. Sociopaths and bullies will always mistake kindness for weakness and try to exploit it. Once you recognize them for what they are, you can respond appropriately. I believe most law enforcement officers enter into contacts with the people they police in the same way.
Also, most officers want to handle situations in the most efficient and fair manner. This begs the question: what do officers do when they are tasked to enforce laws, rules or edicts that are, on their face, not just, not logical or blatantly illogical? What are they to do when they are ordered by their superiors to enforce orders that they know were not legally enacted or are violations of our US or state Constitutions?
These questions are so timely during the current pandemic hysteria, the panic enhancing media coverage and the despotic quarantine regulations laid down by some tyrannical governors. All of the Covid-19 restrictions that the governors have decreed, are more than likely misdemeanors since none of them include incarceration of more than a year. In most jurisdictions, for misdemeanor offenses, officers are given the options of arresting, issuing misdemeanor citations, or advising the offender.
So, the answer to the first question is that officers can advise the violators that they have violated the governor's edicts. (These are “edicts”, not laws. Laws are enacted by legislatures, and signed into laws by the governors). The officer could advise the offender that although he, the officer, may believe that this edict is not legal and is unconstitutional, (because it was not passed by the legislature and/or violates one or more of the Bill of Rights to the US Constitution), the officer has the job of enforcing it.
Second, if the officer has been ordered to enforce the edict by citing or arresting the violator, he or she is subject to termination for insubordination if they refuse. While these terminations would most likely be overturned in court later, since this order to enforce an illegal or unconstitutional edict, it is still a crap shoot for the cop. Few officers with families, can afford the months or years without a paycheck. What the officer should do if circumstances require him to cite or make an arrest, is to advise the violator to fight the citation or arrest in court and the officer will testify that he was only citing or making the arrest because he was ordered to. The officer would testify that it was his or her opinion that the edict was illegal and/or unconstitutional.
As it is now, these officers are put in the unenviable dilemma of looking like Gestapo agents or facing firing for not enforcing these edicts. With nearly everyone having a camera app on their phones, the media has shown several officers, looking terrible to the general public by enforcing these illogical, unlawful edicts. When sheriff deputies arrest a lone paddle boarder, most people wonder what harm he was doing, how he was endangering himself or others by paddling on the ocean by himself.
When a male and a female police officers, officiously and condescendingly, chastise a woman for letting her child meet another child for a play date, it looks verbally abusive and disrespectful, even to those of us who are pro-law enforcement.
Last week, I drove to California and while I was there I attended a breakfast with retired Long Beach cops. It was held on the patio of one of the officer's condo on the water in Huntington Harbor. There was eight or ten of us. We didn't social distance or wear masks. A couple of the retirees who have had health problems, wisely, did not attend. When the subject was broached about the enforcement of the Corona virus edicts, all of those in attendance gave their opinions. To a man they said that they would not enforce those edicts that they all felt were not legal. They would look the other way, they would advise and would refuse to cite or arrest otherwise law abiding citizens exercising their Constitutional rights, unless their supervisor was present and gave them a direct order. Even then, most of them would refuse. One retired detective spoke for all us, when he said, “We became cops to arrest crooks and bad guys, not decent people.”
The sheer numbers of cities protesting speaks to the national message, the national dilemma.
This country of ours, this shining city upon the hill which Puritan pilgrim John Winthrop first spoke of, and Ronald Reagan expounded upon, has had its light dimmed. It is not shut off, yet, but we are dangerously close to darkness. If the only bright light in America last night was a fire at a police building, set by mostly white folks after a cop killed a black man, then we have a very serious dilemma.
I hope Martin Luther King is not looking down at us and saying, “You have learned nothing. You haven't come one inch in terms of progress.” But if he is saying that, he’s right.
The dilemma has more facets than a brilliant-cut diamond, and no doubt I will miss one or two. Feel free to comment. This isn’t about Minneapolis, entirely; some of my favorite cities erupted in protests within hours of last night’s fire… Denver, Louisville, Phoenix, Los Angeles. The sheer numbers of cities protesting speaks to the national message, the national dilemma.
Deadly force is one facet that is killing us and turning our shining light closer to the off position.
I’m not the perfect example of tolerance. Maybe none of us are. The arsonists and looters showed no tolerance. Some of them were burning Minneapolis and didn’t even know why they were doing it. It was a party. They could finally get out of the house and ignore social distancing. Only a fraction of the protestors held signs that reminded us of the dead man – George Floyd. The majority were holding a sick celebratory party that empowered them to steal from stores and set fires. Some of the rioters were professional provocateurs – professional protestors – as described by one retired cop on TV last night. Yes, we have professional provocateurs who go from town to town leading the pack, and sometimes they get paid for their vile.
Another facet of the dilemma is rogue cops. I respect all cops. That respect is shown in my law and order articles and my “Blue Lives Matter” post on my Facebook page. But how many rogue cops have brutalized citizens when a cell phone camera was not recording? How many white women are screaming for help about a black man standing too close when the cell phones are recording? We saw one on TV this week. Both of these are facets in the big diamond – the shining city on the hill.
Attorneys. Wow, where do we start? Half of them are saying Minneapolis didn’t do enough and half of them are saying the town did too much. Let’s just leave the ambulance chasers for another time, another article.
How many white supremacists are enjoying what they see on television? They are a facet in the big diamond, too. We have two dangerous underlying currents in our society – one is white supremacy and one is racial bigotry. We don’t talk about those enough. We don’t bring them out into the open, into the light.
And what about prosecutors? Are they too selective, are they too afraid? In the George Floyd case it sure seems that way. I dare say that if one prosecutor had said the magic words, Minneapolis would not have burned. “We will make a swift arrest of the police officer who may have killed Floyd and bystanding police officers who could have acted.” Those magic words may have prevented Minneapolis thugs from lighting fires.
Courage and leadership from the cops and the mayor may have prevented it, too. But everybody left the Third Precinct Building like cowards. Cowardly mayors, police chiefs, governors and even state legislators are part of the problem when they sit silent or don’t pass laws or make policy to curb violence.
And when the senior leader of the Department of Justice called her news conference earlier yesterday, she spoke of a process and the county prosecutor spoke of a process. They might as well have been talking about what they would be eating for lunch. We don’t need process lectures. The citizens of Minneapolis were not buying what the DOJ and prosecutor were selling, so they burned the city.
Numerous articles have been written about how America has suffered with depression and anxiety and psychiatric problems related to the Coronavirus shut down. Where are those voices, where are the psychiatrists’? Why aren’t they a bigger part of press conferences?
Accountability and taking responsibility went away a long time ago in this country so it is no surprise that throughout Minnesota everyone is pointing the finger at everyone else. No one is owning their own behavior in The Twin Cities.
The PC Police are another facet of the problem. Political Correctness has paralyzed our country to the point where we cannot communicate anymore. We are now experts at double speak. George Floyd was murdered. We don’t need anyone telling us that we need to wait, not to judge, all legal avenues must be exhausted, and you can’t say “murdered.” I’m hearing that a fourth video of his killing has now emerged. Do you “politically correct ones” among us need a fifth or a sixth video? Of course there will be a trial. I have two journalism degrees and a two-year law degree. I expect justice but we need to rid our country of the PC police or gibberish will continue spilling every time blood is spilled.
As a journalist, I covered all four days of the Los Angeles Riots in 1992. Rodney King had been beaten by cops and it was caught on video. Prosecutors did a horrible job and the four cops walked, no discipline, no jail time. So the citizens of Los Angeles burned the city. Ironically, the first victim was a truck driver trying to deliver goods to the poor section of South Central L.A. – Reginald Denny, a white man, was yanked out of his truck and severely beaten by blacks trying to exact revenge. King later won in federal court on civil rights deprivation claims. The shining city on the hill that was beginning to dim way back then was, ironically nicknamed, The City of Angels.
Looters are also facets of the dilemma. One of my video photographers during the L.A. Riots brought me some videotape of people looting a tennis shoe store. Michael Jordan had left an offer from Adidas and went with Nike, but the problem for those who idolized him in South Central L.A. was that they couldn’t afford the shoes. So our video showed young black teens coming out of the stores with four boxes of shoes under each arm. They would have carried five under each arm if they could. This raises a question of yet another facet – where are LeBron James, and Michael J when we need them to provide a calming message. When they dislike a contract or a start date for the new pro sports schedule – they speak out. Why not now?
Poverty is a facet of the big diamond – the shining city. So is poor education in rundown schools. Where are the teachers and professors now? Where are their voices? Their typical reaction is to castigate the white police when class goes back into class session following a white on black police crime, but how often do they open the classroom up for discussion of race relations, or criminal justice reform? That’s right, teachers – you’re one facet of the dilemma, and so are the professors. I’m not confident that teachers or professors will present all facets of the problem when school resumes. Predictably, they will go “political correctness” on the students.
It goes without saying that the white mayors and prosecutors and governors – other facets of the diamond – are too weak to say something pithy or important or calming. They have to be prodded by the President and have talking points written for them by highly paid public relations teams.
The police chiefs and fire chiefs are facets of the dilemma, too. Where were they last night? Their absence last night was conspicuous and calculated. Simply stated, they failed Minneapolis last night. The Minnesota National Guard admits they went to a staging area and were ready to act. But no civilian elected official asked them to move in. Why?
We and they have learned nothing over time. When one firefighter was shot in the cheek (and lived to tell about it) during the Los Angeles Riots, the Governor and Mayor assigned State Troopers to guard every truck that went to a fire. Were the Minnesotans not watching and learning from that? The Los Angelinos posted armed Marshalls at all federal buildings and they had National Guard troops occasionally check on all of us reporters and TV crews. Were the Minnesotans not watching in 1992?!
When I was in basic training, we had a tough drill sergeant. One day he gave us a time out in the shade and his tone of voice changed. We had proven we could march straight, button our uniforms straight and shoot straight. But “Sarge” wanted to take us to a new spiritual plane. Our military is comprised of more ethnic minorities, as a percentage, than the rest of the civilian part of our country. “There’s a war going on in Asia,” he said. “If you’re in the last fox hole in the last battle, are you going to worry about whether the guy next to you is black, brown or white, or are you concerned that he can shoot straight?”
It was Sarge’s only and his last comment about race relations and for this 17-year-old recruit, it has stuck for all these decades. As I wrote earlier, I'm not the most tolerant but I can learn.
What we need now is more town hall meetings on topics of justice and race relations, and a lot less town halls full of politicians. We need Minnesotans to walk the streets tonight and calm things, speak to truth, quell the violence, or the dimmer switch will keep heading to “dark” and the shining city on the hill will have its light shut off.
The Hungry Badger usually parks at theat the Prescottonian Best Western on Gurley.
And now... for your reading pleasure, I shall now jump from 100' up into a glass of water! Here I go! Several tense seconds pass. TA DA, I made it! Now, wasn't that exciting? It's not often you get to read about someone jumping 100 feet into a glass of water.
So, in that spirit, I am going to paint a picture in your mind, a picture so stunning, so precise and yet so Indomita... so indomni... so indomia... so darned good that I am confident you will line up and just get some good grub.
I am talking about the Hungry Badger Food Truck which normally hangs out at the Prescottonian Best Western right near the start of the hill going to PV. Ryan and his team serve up some of the best rustic and tasty chow in the area. There is always something new on the menu, from Pork Belly tacos, to Ahi Tuna cooked just right with a wasabi sauce that can cause small fires.
It is truly a fun place to go. Wander up to the window, and just ask them for the specials or choose from the standard menu. You will surely find something tasty. I asked him for something Keto friendly. He whipped up a delicious pulled pork green chili concoction that was both tasty and low carb. If you love carbs, he can probably toss on a chocolate cake.
Try the Philly Cheese steak, lots of finely cut beef, sauteed onions, peppers and oh, that melty provolone cheese. Watch as you take a bite and the cheese stretches for miles. Or try the Crab Tostada. Lots of crab meat fresh veggies on a crunchy tostada.
What I am saying is... get on down there and get some tasty grub. 4 Snouts, and well deserved. So, drop by their Facebook page and find out where the truck will be. Sometimes they hang out at the Windsock Lounge and who knows where else you will find it.
China’s refusal to comply with global norms allows Chinese companies that are traded on U.S. exchanges to rely on substandard auditing.