Saturday, June 13, 2020
George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ending Institutional Injustice
Chief of Police Steve Conrad tried to duck out by taking early retirement. Shame Breonna, an EMT, didn't get to retire early. Fischer, Louisville's worthless mayor, was right (for once) to finally fire him. The FOP and Metro Council had been demanding his removal since 2016; longer than that by the public. As the saying goes, "a fish rots from the head down". Fischer needs to follow Conrad out the door.
There was no reason for Officer Derek Chauvin to kneel on George Floyd's neck, resulting in his death. Worse was the three other officers standing around watching. However, to claim this was a "white on black" crime is to ignore the facts. Yes, officers Chauvin and Thomas Lane are white, but Officer J. Alexander Kueng is black and Officer Tao Thao is Asian.
Some claim that Floyd was resisting arrest and was a felon with a long record. Based on existing footage, there's no indication that Floyd was resisting arrest. In the footage, he appears to have been mouthing off to Chauvin, but so what? I think most people get a bit mouthy when they feel they're being harassed or bullied. But even if he was, is that justification to take the situation to the point where someone dies?
Just prior to being stopped by Officer Chauvin, Floyd had been attempting to pass off counterfeit $20 dollar bills in the area. He had just tried to buy a pack of cigarettes with one at the Cups Food convenience store at the corner of East 38th and Chicago streets when he was stopped. Odds are pretty good that George Floyd was already well known to the cops who worked that particular part of Minneapolis when the four officers approach Mr. Floyd on May 25th.
It was reported to officers that the suspect (Floyd) appeared to be "drunk", however, indications are that he wasn't drunk, and as the autopsy later bore out, had drugs in his system---fentanyl and methamphetamine-- which might explain some of his behavior (he didn't want to get into the police car, claiming that he was "claustrophobic"). As an aside, Floyd was suffered from acute heart disease, although the police officers wouldn't have known that.
It's worth noting that while officers Chauvin, Lane, and Kueng were attempting to force Floyd into the back seat, he reportedly suddenly stiffen and started complaining about trouble breathing (this was prior being thrown to the ground and Chauvin placed his knee on his neck) according to witnesses.
Throughout all this, Officer Lane was apparently uncomfortable with the situation and repeatedly questioned how Floyd's treatment. Each time, Chauvin assured him that everything was fine. It wasn't until blood started coming from Floyd's mouth that the lead officer, Chauvin, called for medical backup. Kueng checked for a pulse and failed to find one. Meanwhile, none of the officers changed their positions. Lane continued to hold Floyd's legs; Kueng remained applying pressure to his back, and Chauvin's knee and full weight remained on Floyd's neck.
None of the officers released their holds until EMS arrived and Floyd was placed on the gurney; a full 12 minutes after Floyd began complaining about his breathing. Another five minutes would elapse before the EMTs arrived. Officer Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd's neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. According to bystanders, 2 minutes and 53 seconds of this was after Floyd had become totally unresponsive.
There's no question that something went horribly wrong here. Police officers are trained on how to deal with someone resisting arrest. Given Floyd's criminal past (not to mention his 6'4" 223 pound frame), they were obviously cautious. No doubt this is why they called for backup (not to mention that there was another male in the SUV with Floyd and a woman in the back seat). However, it was apparent that "something" was happening to Floyd before he was placed on the ground (he had been placed in handcuffs about ten minutes earlier)
One can, just maybe, excuse the two rookies. They were, after all, "just following orders". As trite as they may sound, it's what fresh rookies need to do to stay alive. Lane, age 37, had been on the force just four days. Kueng, 26 had been on the force for about a week; it was just his third shift. Chauvin was his training officer.
Tao Thao, 34, had been on the force for eight years. He had six complaints filed against with Internal Affairs for excessive use of force, false arrest, etc. All were closed without any disciplinary action. At the time of the incident, one case remained open for excessive use of force and false charges being filed.
As for Derek Chauvin,44, the lead officer on scene, he had been on the Minneapolis Police Department for 19 years. He had had 18 complaints filed against him; two included disciplinary charges. He had previously served in the Army as an MP. Chauvin had twice been recommended for the police department's medal of valor for action taken in two violent incidents involving officers.
For that matter, given the dozens of protests and riots not just in this country, but around the world, I suspect a "guilty" verdict is all but assured (the minimum sentence for second degree murder charge is 40 years). I shudder to think what would happen if they're acquainted! It should be remembered that Thao was doing crowd control and Lane, the four day rookie, was showing the most concern, was acting under the direction of his supervisor, Derek Chauvin.
There's no doubt the George Floyd's death was tragic. There's no excuse for what happened. Yes, the officers needed to be extra careful given Floyd's criminal past and reports of acting "drunk" (plus his physical size). That's just being smart. Many an officer has been injured or killed for less. However, given that he was in handcuffs and there were four armed officers on the scene, more attention should have been given to his health complaints. EMS needed to have been called much sooner.
I don't think this had anything to do with Floyd's race. Nothing in what we know indicates otherwise. What it does appear to show is a lack of compassion or empathy. As for the protests and riots, the country was primed and waiting for just an event since the deaths of Eric Garner and 12 year old Tamir Rice in 2014 and others along with the virulent hatred built for Donald Trump since his election by the media. It was bound to happen. It was only a matter of time. It was almost a custom made situation waiting to be exploited. Breonna Taylor let the fuse.
Speaking of racism, it needs to be mentioned that racism is not a "white only" issue. Racism is a two way street. Any person or group can be guilty of racism just as they can be of sexual, religious, ethnic, or even political discrimination. The idea that only whites are guilty of discrimination is ludicrous and naive at best. Unless you're willfully guilty, apologizing is just wrong. The same goes for kneeling.
Why are you on your knees begging for forgiveness (and washing or kissing feet---really?) for something you didn't or wouldn't do? Have you've been convinced that you "suffer" from some form of "white privilege"? Could it be that if such a thing existed, it was the creation of politicians and they are the ones responsible? If racism or any other form of systematic injustice exists, its root cause lays in Washington, our state capitols, and in City Hall.
George Floyd had 'violent violent criminal history' :Minneapolis police union chief
Louisville Police Officers in Breonna Taylor Raid Named
What we know about the four ex-police officers charged in George Floyd's death
Prosecutors of George Floyd Police Officers Will Struggle To Get Four Convections